Canals used in anti-obesity drive

Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A “canoe trail” stretching along 150 miles of canals from coast to coast is being developed as part of efforts to tackle obesity in young people.

The scheme by the Canal & River Trust, which looks after 2,000 miles of historic waterways in England and Wales, aims to involve more than 10,000 young people, including from some of England’s most deprived areas.

They will help develop the canoe trail over the next five years, which will stretch the length of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Aire and Calder Navigation, from Merseyside to Humberside.

The Canal & River Trust said 15-24 year olds and their families will be recruited to form “canoe action squads” in places such as LIverpool, Wigan, Burnley, Leeds and Goole to link up communities along the route and work with canoe clubs, schools and universities to design the trails which can be used by local people.

The work will include identifying parking and safe access points to get in and out of the water and physically clearing areas of the route, as well as organising and running activities including canoe taster sessions.

Planting new community gardens and habitats along the trail will also take place.

It is hoped that opening up the sport of canoeing on the canals will help tackle the obesity crisis among young people and boost their physical activity levels.

Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust, said: “We want communities to use canals to enrich their lives as part of a healthy and fun lifestyle.

“Canoeing is a great sport, growing in popularity, for the young and the older. We want to make it accessible and enjoyed by many more families and individuals, whatever their physical ability.”

Canal & River Trust volunteer Amy Irwin, 18, from Netherton, near Sefton, said: “I live opposite the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and love the view from my bedroom window but many people don’t even know there’s a canal really close to them.

“This project will be great as it will get young people involved in their local community while getting them active both physically, by getting into a canoe and onto the water exercising, but also learning new skills like design, planning, management and promotion of the trail.”

The scheme, which has been given £1.3 million by the Desmond Foundation, is supported by British Canoeing and Canoe England.

Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

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