YOUNGSTERS are the focus of a new campaign to help fight the country’s biggest killer.
Primary schoolchildren are being taught about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle in a new £100,000 campaign to drive down Hartlepool’s level of heart disease.
Campaign leaders hope children as young as seven will take heed of the message and pass it on to their parents and grandparents.
Hartlepool is one of 32 places taking part in the Hearty Lives Younger and Wiser initiative.
The British Heart Foundation has teamed up with NHS Hartlepool and Hartlepool Borough Council and will pump the cash into the community over three years.
Some of the schools across Hartlepool involved in the campaign attended a launch event at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience yesterday.
Louise Wallace, director of public health for NHS Hartlepool and Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Too many people in Hartlepool are dying far too young from heart disease and other illnesses caused by unhealthy lifestyles .
“Although we have started to reverse this trend, there is still so much work to be done.
“We are also hoping that children will take their key health messages home with them to help influence the lifestyles of other members of the family and friends.”
West Park Primary School, Dyke House Sports and Technology College and Catcote School Business Enterprise Centre gave presentations at the launch event, telling how committed they are to the campaign.
The initiative was backed by Hartlepool Borough Council chairman Stephen Akers-Belcher, who is also chairman of its health scrutiny forum.
He said: “It is wonderful to see so many people involved in such an important issue.
“Young people are a great way of getting a message across.”
Each school involved in the campaign receives £1,500 to help deliver the programme, through the likes of workshops, healthy cooking demonstrations and assemblies.
Last year Hartlepool became one of the first towns in the North-East to be awarded Heart Town status by the British Heart Foundation for its commitment to fighting heart disease.