A home-grown basketball star is taking his best shot at promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Local talent Aaron Neilsen, aged 19, who made his debut for the Newcastle Eagles last season and is sponsored by Northumbrian Water, is supporting the launch of an exciting new basketball clinic before each home match.
Two-hour clinics, which are being funded by the water company, give youngsters the opportunity to play basketball with local coaches from the Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation.
The clinics, which are on offer to schools and groups across the region, are a new extension to the Eagles Hoops 4 Health programme, which Northumbrian Water has sponsored since 2005. Hoops 4 Health uses professional sporting role models to promote the importance of healthy eating, drinking plenty of tap water and taking regular exercise to more than 10,000 pupils a year in 120 primary schools across Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside.
John Cuthbert, managing director of Northumbrian Water, said: “We are committed to improving our customers’ wellbeing and promoting the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. The clinics compliment the Hoops 4 Health programme, which emphasises the benefits of exercise and keeping hydrated by drinking enough tap water.
“The Newcastle Eagles are great role models, especially for our younger customers, and they help deliver healthy messages in an exciting way.”
Aaron Neilsen, who is from Newcastle upon Tyne and plays in guard position for the Newcastle Eagles, said: “Playing top flight basketball was always my dream and I’m really excited to be playing for my home town, joining the first team through the Eagles development programme.
“I hope that these clinics will encourage more youngsters to participate in regular exercise and live a healthy lifestyle, and hopefully we’ll see a number of North East basketball stars of the future coming through.”
The £10,000 funding from Northumbrian Water has been matched on a like-for-like basis from Sportsmatch for the 2008/9 season, ensuring increased participation in basketball at community level. Sportsmatch is funded by Sport England to support the development of grassroots sport in England.
Newcastle Eagles play in the British Basketball League and are the current BBL League title holders.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle in the region is important because according to British Heart Foundation statistics, the North East is the coronary heart disease capital of the UK, with more adults suffering a heart attack or stroke than anywhere else.
Lifestyle factors play a large part and the North East has the highest percentage of smokers in England, the largest consumption of saturated fat in the UK and the greatest number of physically inactive adults in the UK outside of the London region.
For more information contact Leanne Clough on 0191 301 6733.