Sexton and his Laya Super Troopers

Johnny Sexton might have a serious demeanour when there is a job to be done on the rugby pitch.  He may indeed be ‘pretty narky’ as he was described playfully by one of his colleagues yesterday, but he was all smiles when highlighting a children’s health and wellbeing initiative with Laya Healthcare in south county Dublin.

Super Troopers is Ireland’s only ‘Health Homework’ programme currently running in almost half of all primary schools in Ireland.   An impressive 238,000 school children, 162,000 families and 15,000 teachers have taken part in the free initiative this year.

It encourages families to treat health and wellbeing with the same importance as traditional homework and features fun, short-burst activities that prompt children to get moving for at least 10-15 minutes at a time, building towards the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Super Troopers also includes mindfulness challenges and expert tips on looking after overall health, such as the importance of getting enough sleep and drinking enough water, along with guidelines on healthy eating.

The Programme aims to instil healthier behaviours and attitudes among young children and their families, behaviours that will positively serve them into adulthood. Its approach to health is holistic, covering three pillars of physical health, emotional wellbeing and nutrition.

Independent research among 1,280 school children, parents and teachers by health psychologist Professor David Hevey from Trinity College Dublin found that Super Troopers has been successful in improving healthy behaviours among families:

  • Between one quarter and one third of children, parents and their families said they were more active after taking part in Super Troopers.
  • One in four families said they were eating healthier as a result of participating
  • One in four (23%) of children improved their stress management compared with before they started Super Troopers

“I’m a huge fan of Super Troopers,” said father of two Sexton.

“It’s such a clever way to get kids more active with their families. Involving teachers in overseeing the health homework aspect of Super Troopers is an integral part of the Programme and that’s really smart because we all know how conscientious parents are to make sure that kids homework is done and signed off on.”

“I’ve already introduced my kids to some of the Super Troopers activities and they love them, and it provides me with an opportunity to get active with the kids in a manner that’s easy and fun.”

“We love ‘Musical Sprints’ and the ‘7 Day Happy Challenge’ in our house, it’s great to see mindfulness encouraged among kids when they’re so young.”

“In just four years, we’ve grown Super Troopers from 330 participating schools to over 1,510 and our ambition is to expand to all primary schools in time,” said Laya Healthcare Managing Director D.O. O’Connor.

“At laya healthcare, we believe in the importance of instilling healthier habits at a younger age, by embedding healthy attitudes towards nutrition and fitness among families, we will help combat childhood obesity and ensure a healthier adult population in the future.”

The company’s reach towards children and families is backed up this year by the extension of the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular to include a new Playstival at Dundrum’s Airfield House in the summer.

Expect to see a few more of the Leinster players attending that as part of the long-term health and wellbeing partnership the brand has with the province.


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Image Credit: Marc O’Sullivan

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