Newcastle Falcons players Andy Tuilagi, Brian Tuilagi and Andy Saull turned rugby coaches for BT Sport ambassador Graeme Swann, the former England cricketer, today as the quartet visited Emmaville Primary School in Tyne and Wear.
The stars got involved in Something to Chew On, a health and well-being initiative delivered by Premiership Rugby in association with BT Sport's The Supporters Club and Public Health England.
They travelled to the Ryton-based school to join a group of year five students in a number of food and health activities. These included a sandwich-making session aimed at choosing the healthiest sandwich for the Falcons players' diets and a blind food tasting session where the stars competed to identify as many foods as possible by describing each food item without naming it. Completing the afternoon was a rugby session where former cricketer Swann was taught how to tackle by the Falcons players.
Something to Chew On aims to improve youngsters' understanding of healthy eating, as well as increasing their knowledge of food safety and engagement with sports they might not otherwise have the opportunity to take part in. The programme is delivered by Premiership Rugby coaches trained by Public Health England's nutrition team.
The visit formed part of a new campaign by The Supporters Club, BT Sport's initiative which aims to build a better world by bringing people together through sport. The campaign is inviting people to pledge their time this Christmas and beyond to charities and sports clubs. To inspire people to get involved, The Supporters Club is organising a number of events where BT Sport pundits visit projects run by organisations that The Supporters Club has backed. People can pledge extra time to local organisations via www.btsport.com/myextratime.
Graeme Swann said: "Being more prepared and eating a balanced diet helped me to deliver on the cricket field. As a former athlete, I cannot stress how important looking after yourself is - so stay ahead of the rest and eat the right foods.
"Getting stuck in today at the event and witnessing how much fun the youngsters can have with food when it's done in a fun way was a pleasure. BT Sport's The Supporters Club is delighted to be able to bring to life initiatives such as Something to Chew On."
During the Something to Chew On programme, the Premiership Rugby coaches deliver classroom teaching developed with Public Health England on diet and health, food safety, consumer awareness, food preparation and cooking and also give the children one hour of rugby, fitness and body movement on the field to motivate children to be active.
The key aims of the project are to:
• Improve children's understanding of what constitutes healthy eating and a healthy diet.
• Increase children's knowledge of food safety.
• Increase children's uptake of physical activity.
• Raise awareness of the food competences amongst teachers.
• Support the Chief Medical Officer's guidelines that all children should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least an hour a day.
Eustace De Sousa, Director of Children, Young People and Early Years at Public Health England, said: "PHE continues to support Premiership Rugby's successful Something to Chew On programme which enables young people to learn how to choose, cook and eat safe, healthy food, and be more active, using rugby as an exciting, fun way to engage this age group.
"With childhood obesity being a major concern, innovative programmes like Something to Chew On have never been more important to ensure children get into the habit of eating healthily from an early age.
"Parents can help their children maintain a healthy weight by following a balanced diet based on the eatwell plate, keeping an eye on portion sizes and limiting sugary drinks and sugary or fatty snacks. Children also need a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day, which can be achieved in one session or through shorter bursts of 10 minute activity."
Wayne Morris, Community and Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Premiership Rugby said: "Three in ten boys and girls aged two to 15 are classed as either overweight or obese.
"If this trend continues, by 2025 47% of men and 36% of women could be obese and as a sport we must try and tackle this issue. The future burden of ill health and obesity will be borne both by the individual and more broadly by the state healthcare system.
"Tackling obesity today is therefore high on both government and media agendas. Delivering change that ensures all British children live healthy and active lifestyles requires an approach which can pass on information and inspiration to eat more healthily; tackles inactivity by promoting fundamentals of movement; and teams up with children, teachers, parents and professional sport to make changes in the long term.
"Premiership Rugby's Something to Chew On programme does just that and we are very excited to partner with The Supporters Club to deliver this programme. We are also grateful for the technical and advisory support of Public Health England."
Newcastle Falcons flanker Andy Saull said: "All the players are inspired by the work of the Newcastle Falcons Community Foundation and we are delighted to be attending this event.
"A healthy lifestyle is crucial to a rugby player's life. Nutrition is a core foundation to being both healthy and performing well on the pitch.
"Something to Chew On is a great initiative. The earlier you learn all of this means it's an extra tool to help you be successful and healthy in later life.
"As sportsmen we know better than anyone how important nutrition is and if we can pass on one or two tips to the kids, and to Swanny, we will be delighted."
Avril Armstrong, Head Teacher, Emmaville Primary School, said: "The children had an unforgettable experience today. Not only an insight into nutrition but also practical experience with four incredible sporting stars who are heroes to most of them."
David Rowley, who heads up BT Sport's The Supporters Club, said:
"Thanks to the money raised by BT Sport customers, The Supporters Club has been able to support programmes like Something To Chew On which is a fantastic initiative."