THE TEAM behind a £4million programme to inspire youngsters to lead healthy lifestyles welcomed a government minister to Bradford.

Baroness Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for digital, culture, media and sport, visited Scotchman Road in Heaton, a site being redeveloped into a safe children's play space by JU:MP (Join Us: Move. Play) programme and Bradford Council.

The JU:MP programme, led by Active Bradford, is one of 12 local delivery pilots across the country funded by Sport England to test and learn how we can build healthier, more active communities across England.

The JU:MP programme works with families, communities, schools and organisations whilst making improvements to the local environment.

The Secretary of State joined Lister Primary School children in an active phonics lesson and their daily mile in the school grounds.

She then took a tour of the Scotchman Road neighbourhood where it is hoped the safe space will be developed.

The scheme is particularly important to boost the number of children doing the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day, with data from Born In Bradford recording that 77 per cent of five-11 year olds not completing the latter.

Baroness Morgan said: “It has been fantastic to see so many organisations come together in Bradford to encourage young people to get active.

"The Government is absolutely committed to ensuring all children have a positive first experience of sport.

"After all, we know physical activity contributes vitally to our children’s mental wellbeing, educational outcomes and the development of important new skills like teamwork and leadership.

"“I encourage other local parents and schools to look at how they can get involved with the JU:MP movement."

Lister Primary School is one of 30 schools in Bradford who will be taking part in the JU:MP programme.

These schools and others across North Bradford will have a series of Fun Days taking place to encourage children and their families to take part in playful activities to get them moving and give them ideas to take home.

With figures that show 38 per cent of pupils leave primary school overweight or obese, project leaders want people to swap screen time for outdoor play and start walking to school instead of driving.

Gaynor Kilmister, headteacher at Lister Primary School explained that: “Being a JUMP school means that we have an ethos and a drive to increase movement, play and activity for all of our pupils, this is the start of a journey for us and we aim to get the entire school community including teachers and parents to consider physical activity in everything they do.”

Other schools involved in the project include Margaret McMillan Primary School; Lilycroft Primary School and St Cuthbert and the First Martyrs' Catholic Primary School.

The focus of the project is small, subtle changes that make a big difference.

Jan Burkhardt, director of JU:MP Programme explained: “JU:MP will inspire people to make small changes that can have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of our children. It could be as simple as taking a family walk at the weekend, each child’s experience will be different.”