Superheroes and school kids sign up for Change4Life


Thousands of children across the region are to be encouraged to sign up to a healthy challenge by life-size cartoon characters.

Northumbrian Water’s H2O gang, a group of superheroes, have joined the Change4Life initiative and will help promote it to hundreds of North East primary schools through the water company’s sixth and latest comic adventure, titled ‘Are you fit for life?’

The comic promotes the national Change4Life campaign, which aims to help people eat well, move more and live longer, with a particular focus on young people. 

In the latest adventure, the superheroes’ arch enemy, Dr Dry, has an evil plan to take over the world by making children unhealthy and inactive with junk food, fizzy drinks and video games. Luckily, H2O gang leader Karl realises what is happening and saves the day, by signing the rest of the gang up to the Change4Life programme.

Thirty thousand copies of the comic will be distributed following the launch, to the region’s primary schools, doctors’ waiting rooms and children’s hospital wards.

The comic will be launched at a health-themed assembly at Edmondsley Primary School (near Sacriston), County Durham, DH7 6DU on Wednesday, October 7 2009, from 9.30am to 10.30am.  Reporters and photographers are invited to hear the latest adventure being read by a professional storyteller.

The Change4Life characters will come to life for the first time and exercise with children from the school and the H2O gang. Edmondsley Primary School won the Healthy Schools Award at the North East Schools Awards in July 2009.

Interviews are also available with Professor Stephen Singleton, regional director of public health for NHS North East and Graham Neave, Northumbrian Water’s operations director.

Professor Stephen Singleton, regional director of public health, said: “Obesity levels in the North East tend to be higher than the rest of England. Sadly, if children have a poor diet and don’t exercise enough, they are at higher risk of developing all sorts of diseases in later life, including heart problems, various cancers and diabetes.

“Promoting healthy choices as early as possible in a child’s development is crucial if we are to achieve our vision to become the healthiest place in England.  We need to find creative ways of doing this and today’s launch is an example of how we can work to do that.”

Graham Neave, Northumbrian Water’s operations director, said: “Northumbrian Water developed the H2O gang comics to help our younger customers understand how important and precious water is for life, health and the environment.  

“This is first time we’ve worked in partnership with another organisation on a comic and working with NHS North East has been a real success. The Change4Life campaign complements the H2O gang’s water for health messages perfectly and we’re able to get a serious health message across to children in a fun, creative and appealing way.”

Change4Life characters and members of the H2O Gang will also launch comic six and promote the health initiative at the following schools around the region. Reporters and photographers are asked to confirm their attendance in advance.

Area School Date and time
Teesside Rosebrook Primary School, Rudyard Avenue, Stockton on Tees, TS19 9LF Thursday, October 8 2009 from 10.15am to 11.00am
Tyne & Wear St. Benets R C Primary School, Fulwell Road, Sunderland, SR6 9QU Thursday, October 8 2009 from 2.15pm to 3.00pm

The H2O Gang make learning about the world of water fun, through school visits, an interactive CD-ROM, a series of comics and they also feature on Northumbrian Water’s website, The gang’s arch enemies, Dr Dry, and his henchman, Drip, are evil and want to rule the world by stealing or wasting all water.  It is up to the ‘H2O Gang’ to stop them!

Previous adventures in the H2O Gang series can be viewed or downloaded from Northumbrian Water’s website, at

For further information:

Contact Leanne Clough of Northumbrian Water on 0191 301 6733:
• to register attendance at any of the school assemblies.
• for more information on the H2O gang comic series.
• to arrange pre-recorded interviews with Graham Neave if unable to attend on Wednesday, October 7 2009.

Contact Julie Marsh of NHS North East on 0191 210 6464:
• for more information on Change4Life.
• to arrange pre-recorded interviews with Professor Stephen Singleton if unable to attend on Wednesday, October 7 2009.

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