Newcastle Eagles Basketball team has helped educate special needs pupils in Tyne and Wear about improving their heart health thanks to a Healthy Heart Grant of over £9,000 to the Eagles Community Foundation from national charity, Heart Research UK and sandwich franchise SUBWAY® stores.

The ‘Healthy Hearts Basketball Roadshow’, used the Newcastle Eagles players visiting 10 special needs schools to encourage pupils in the Tyne and Wear area to take care of their hearts by making healthy lifestyle choices and getting active.

The project educated local children through roadshow visits with their basketball heroes as well as competitions and fitness activities which explore how living a healthy lifestyle has great benefits which will help reduce their chances of heart disease and other life threatening illnesses in their future.

The programme focused on three main topics: eating for a healthy heart, fitness for a healthy heart and the impacts of smoking.  It is hoped the ‘Healthy Hearts Basketball Roadshow’ project will bring benefits to each person’s life by reducing health inequalities and promoting social inclusion amongst people in special needs schools.

The project has been a great success and came to an end with celebration events and tournaments which took place at Percy Hedley Sports Academy with the Newcastle Eagles Players and students from the schools.

The children also got the chance to see their sporting heroes in action when they visited the home of the Newcastle Eagles on the 21st March.  The Eagles took on London Lions watched by more than 200 children and their families who have taken part in the project.

Deirdre Tozer-Hayes, Eagles Community Foundation General Manager, said the feedback to the project from parents, teachers and the children had been incredible.  “The opportunity to work with 10 Special Needs school from across Tyne & Wear with different needs has been a challenging and positive experience for our staff.  We hope that this is just the start and that the positive message regarding heart health has touched a large number of individuals.”

Heart Research UK’s Lifestyle Manager, Barbara Dinsdale said: “We’re pleased the Healthy Hearts Basketball Roadshow has been able to bring heart-healthy messages to those groups which are not always easy to reach.  It is great to see the children responding to their basketball heroes and putting a lot of energy into this project which will hopefully have a lasting effect.”

Manaaz Akhtar, Regional Marketing Director for the SUBWAY® brand in Europe, says: “The SUBWAY® brand is delighted to be able to fund this project with the Eagles Community Foundation. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of our staff and customers in the Tyne Tees region, we have managed to support a unique community project which will help to promote heart health.”