Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Compass North Kids – the right direction to health and fitness fun

A Camlough school teacher is urging parents to steer their kids in the right direction to health and fitness fun this summer with Compass North Summer Schemes which feature a specialised GPS for Kids programme combining elements of gymnastics, body weight movements and familiar games to develop the General Physical Skills children need for a happy, healthy foundation in life.

Skills such as balance, co-ordination, strength, speed, agility and endurance are all included and delivered with a fun, child centred approach that sets Compass North Summer Schemes apart from the rest.

Primary School Teacher Nicola Sloan, decided to start up Compass North after undertaking a Crossfit for Kids qualification in New York in August 2013, shortly after gaining a Crossfit for Adults qualification in June of the same year.

Nicola is well known for her sporting prowess over the years as a former Armagh Ladies footballer.  She currently still plays for Lissummon GAA club and founded the Newry Ladies Netball Team for which she still plays.

“From my own teaching of P.E, I wanted to find out a bit more about it all so I completed a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Education specialising in P.E and from my own background in various sports I’ve taken from what I’ve learned throughout the years and from my Crossfit for Kids qualification to create the GPS programme,” Nicola told The Examiner.

“The underlying message I’m trying to get across with the Compass North camps is that through activities, through music, through arts and crafts there are three components that kids need to be healthy.

“One is food, the second one is movement – in whatever shape or form as long as they’re moving – and the third is sleep.  So kids should come away from the camps knowing that they need to do those three things to lead a healthy life.”

With today’s sedentary lifestyle leaving many parents worried that their children are not active enough and added concerns over type II diabetes and future health problems related to weight, Nicola feels it is essential to instil a love of fitness and exercise in children that will lead them towards a confident and healthy adulthood.

“GPS emphasises good movement throughout childhood. Consistently good mechanics translates to physical literacy, enhanced sports performance, and fewer sports injuries for kids,” says the passionate health and fitness expert.

The programme also adheres to the vast body of research which indicates that consistent exercise is beneficial to cognitive function and can have a positive impact on children’s academic achievement. In addition, the programme has taken into consideration the recommendations of Brain Gym – how basic and functional movements can help children fire new neural pathways in the brain, which in turn promotes enhanced concentration and an increased ability to learn.

“We have also looked at recommendations from Occupational Therapists involved in working with children within Motor Sensory Groups. The recommendations are always that children need to improve balance, core stability, muscle tone and bilateral co-ordination. These areas are all addressed throughout the programme,” Nicola adds.

“Throughout the summer schemes, children are taught that they need to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep for optimal health. One of the children involved in the programme last year designed a t-shirt with the mantra… Eat, Sleep, Train, Repeat…which I loved! It is a great ethos to instil in our children, to give them the best start for a healthy future.”

Nicola has enlisted the able assistance of Armagh and Crossmaglen GAA player James Morgan who will head up the Crossmaglen Compass North Summer Scheme which begins today (Monday 20th July) in St. Joseph’s High School, Crossmaglen until Friday 24th July, from 10am to 2pm each day.  The scheme will start up again in St. Joseph’s HIgh School on Monday 3rd August until Friday 7th August from 10am to 2pm daily.

Places are still available for both weeks of this fun filled health and fitness centred summer scheme which caters for children aged 3 – 14 at a cost of just £10 per day or £40 per week.  Children can register on the day and a 10% discount is  available for families.

For further information on Compass North and the summer schemes visit the Compass North Facebook page.