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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is that Belfast is recognised globally
as a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Supporting children and promoting a  healthy and safe return to school

WHO Belfast Healthy Cities Seminar: Exploring guidance and international examples during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As teachers and pupils prepare to return to school this week, Belfast Healthy Cities brought together international and national experts in an online seminar which discussed the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on children and what can be done to support them in their return to education. 

Between reduced physical activity, a lack a structured stimulation and limited contact with friends, it is no surprise that children have felt the effects of recent regulations as much as adults. In response, Belfast Healthy Cities joined some key speakers who considered the safety of children in the physical school setting, and ensuring they remain connected, nurtured and provided with robust educational support.

Speakers included Jenni Wiggle from Living Streets; Caroline Moos, WHO Schools for Health in Europe Network Foundation and Claus Ortved Melcher, who gave insight into how local Government is supporting the reopening of schools across Denmark.

The event, which took place online, examined what steps need to be taken to meet the physical and emotional needs of children returning to school, while also exploring how other WHO European Healthy Cities are using innovative ways to address these issues. 

Speaking after the discussion, Joan Devlin, Chief Executive of Belfast Healthy Cities, said:

“The education system is key for the growth of children’s physical, social and emotional development - a crucial resource which was sadly stripped away from them during the pandemic. This means a careful and considered plan to help families, teachers and pupils get back to school is required to ensure the reintroduction to education is done safely and effectively. 

“Changes in how children will get to school, due to reduced public transport facilities or even quieter streets, will be considered, as well as the emotional toll a return to the classroom may have on our young people. 

“Our seminar addressed these important issues and even looked at suggested guidelines to those helping to prepare a return to school, here in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.”