MORE than 60 children from Bolton are among the first graduates of a new schools’ programme to promote healthy lifestyles.

The Ferns Primary Academy's Year Three and Four children signed up to "Tackling Health’" – an interactive education project that teaches young people about health, wellbeing and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

The programme has been funded by the bakery chain Greggs and is being delivered in schools by Sharks Community Trust – the charitable arm of rugby team Sale Sharks.

More than 30,000 children across England are set to take part in the programme over the next two years, with 11 other Premiership Rugby clubs delivering the programme in local schools.

"Sharks Community Trust is proud to work with schools to make a difference in the North West and it’s fantastic to be involved in a project like this that aims to promote a greater awareness of health in young people across our region,” said Alison Warwood, Head of Sharks Community Trust.

"Every year, around 8,000 children in our region start primary school needing help to lead a healthy lifestyle, which highlights just how important this type of project is. We’ve only just started delivering Tackling Health across the North West, but we’ll be continuing to work hard to champion healthier lifestyles for young people and their families.

"Sharks Community Trust is committed to developing healthy and active lifestyles across all of its community programmes and this partnership with Greggs will help us to reach as many young people as possible.”

Tackling Health has been designed to educational and dietary standards set by Public Health England and is aimed specifically at seven and eight-year-olds with the hope of embedding good eating habits at an early age.

Tracy Lynch, Greggs Foundation Manager, said: "Greggs Foundation has a long-standing history of making a difference in the communities that Greggs operates. Tackling Health is a fantastic example of how collaborative action can achieve and sustain positive long-lasting impact. We are delighted that what started out as a local programme delivered in just 15 of our Breakfast Club schools in the northeast with Newcastle Falcons has become a nationwide project, which thanks to the support of Premiership Rugby will offer thousands of children the opportunity to learn more about making healthier food choices and get active through playing tag rugby.

“The fact it is supported by Public Health England, who Greggs have been working closely with on its customer health journey, adds real value ­— it has never been more important to support young people to lead healthier, more active lives and we are extremely proud to be doing our part.”