Finally, it’s starting! ’REBIRTH active school’ gets pupils moving

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Copyright: MHH / Karin Kaiser.

Copyright: MHH / Karin Kaiser.

Primary schools around Hanover, Wolfsburg, Gifhorn and Helmstedt start with the exercise programme for the sustainable promotion of children’s health

02.07.2021 After a long, patient wait, the "REBIRTH active school" exercise programme for the sustainable promotion of children’s health can finally be launched. The comprehensive exercise programme for everyday school life was developed at the Hannover Medical School (MHH) and extensively tested in a pilot study. However, the pandemic threw a spanner in the works of the planned launch at several primary schools.

In the "REBIRTH active school" physical activity programme, the pupils receive playful physical activity units spread over the entire school day in the form of threeto five-minute sequences during lessons, as well as an early morning and afternoon sports programme. The study showed significant improvements in physical health and performance as well as a decrease in risk factors for cardiovascular diseases among the participating primary school students. Building on these results and the appalling health status of the children, the plan to expand the study followed.

4.000 primary school pupils to take part

The planned start of the study could not be realised at first because of the Corona situation and the associated school closures. All the more reason for the entire team of the Institute of Sports Medicine and the Paediatric Clinic of the MHH to finally bring movement to the schools. With the support of the Lower Saxony Ministry of Culture, the Lower Saxony Sports Association and Audi BKK, the MHH is offering schools from the regions of Hanover, Wolfsburg, Helmstedt and Gifhorn the opportunity to participate in the "REBIRTH active school" programme over the next three years with their Year 2 classes. 40 primary schools with about 4,000 pupils are to be inspired to participate in the project.

At the launch event, Minister of Education Grant Hendrik Tonne already emphasised the importance of promoting physical activity in primary schools: "Physical activity is an important factor in the way children and young people grow up. There are many ways to expand, improve and intensify physical activity at school. "REBIRTH active school" is not the only measure, but it is a good addition to more physical activity at school. I am very grateful to the Hannover Medical School for creating, on its own initiative, with the pilot study and the implementation study that will now follow, opportunities to make a sustainable contribution to promoting the health of the children, but also of the teachers and to the overall learning environment of the school with more exercise."

60 minutes of activity per day significantly improves fitness and health

"In our pilot study on "REBIRTH active school", the children who were given movement impulses for at least 60 minutes per day showed a significant improvement in their physical fitness within one year. It is particularly noteworthy that vascular elasticity improved at the same time in the sense of early prevention against arteriosclerosis," emphasises Dr. Anette Melk, senior physician at the Children’s Clinic. "The activities led to a better class climate and the pupils relaxed. This relieved the burden on the class and the teachers. The sports physicians also advised the teachers on health and quality of life," adds Professor Dr Tegtbur, Director of the Institute of Sports Medicine. "Expanding such successful measures for better pupil and teacher health and fitness in Lower Saxony is urgently needed, as only 20 per cent of children and 30 per cent of adults are still sufficiently physically active!" Professor Dr Axel Haverich, Director of the Clinic for Cardiac, Thoracic, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery and initiator of the REBIRTH active studies, says: "As a surgeon, I associate the study with the hope that our project will contribute to the children’s health education and that they will implement what they have learned for as long as possible. If we succeed in doing this for very many children, serious, chronic diseases will occur less frequently in the future." Dirk Lauenstein, Board Member of Audi BKK, emphasises: "The pilot study has impressively shown that children of primary school age can very well be inspired to exercise and demonstrably benefit from it. We are pleased that we can support the expansion of the study as part of prevention in the school setting and hope that as many primary schools as possible will participate."

First 30 schools get underway

After this difficult Corona period, especially for the young pupils, the examinations are now starting at the first primary schools in the Hanover area. Before the upcoming summer holidays, the first three of the 30 schools participating so far will be examined and introduced to the physical activity programme. All examinations and physical activity sessions will be conducted under the current Corona conditions. Particularly because of the long lockdown and the associated restrictions on movement opportunities, promoting children’s movement is of enormous importance. In order to regularly reach all children with movement units, the setting school offers the optimal possibilities and encourages the "REBIRTH active school" team of the MHH to bring movement to the school with fun and ease after the periods with little movement.

Professor Tegtbur, a sports physician, and Professor Melk, a paediatrician, are in charge of the study. The interdisciplinary team from the Institute of Sports Medicine and the Paediatric Clinic of the MHH are working closely together to ensure the successful implementation of the study.

The teachers are supported by specialist sports science staff for the implementation of the programme. In addition, the teachers of the participating primary schools are offered project-specific further training in cooperation with the "Leibniz School of Education". At the beginning of the study, the participating schools are randomly divided into two groups: One group starts the physical activity programme immediately, the other group with a one-year delay. At the beginning, after twelve months and after 24 months, the children are mainly examined for physical and academic performance.

Grasdorf primary school is one of the first participating schools

The Grasdorf primary school is one of the first schools to take part in the study. "We are taking part in the campaign because, as a physical education teacher, after the information event at the MHH, I felt that we should improve the physical activity times in our school even more," says headmistress Claudia Weber. "We are a ’moving and sport-friendly school’ and every input that means more movement for children and teachers is good for everyone’s health," she adds. It is also particularly important to the headmistress "that teachers who have not studied sport in particular receive suggestions for more movement in the classroom."

Likewise, in Hanover, the Suthwiesenstraße primary school and the Loccumer Straße primary school will begin the study before the summer holidays.

Other primary schools can still be included in the study. Interested teachers should contact the MHH Institute for Sports Medicine, rebirth.active.school @ mh-hannover.de.


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