Batting for bones: charities forge new partnership to improve ‘bone health’ of thousands of young people

The National Osteoporosis Society and Cricket Foundation have announced a strategic partnership to help scores of schoolchildren bat and bowl their way to healthier bones.

The charities will work together to highlight the importance of exercise and proper nutrition for children and adolescents, across England and Wales, to improve bone health and help prevent conditions like osteoporosis in later life. Working through ‘Chance to Shine’, the National Osteoporosis Society will bring its building stronger bones message to thousands of children in schools and local cricket clubs.

Education will form the bedrock of the strategic partnership. The charities will use their resources to promote the key health and exercise messages. The Cricket Foundation runs a series of girls-only summer cricket camps each year, delivered by England Women cricketers, which will provide the National Osteoporosis Society with an ideal opportunity to engage and educate a traditionally hard-to-reach audience. Joint fundraising and stakeholder engagement activity is also being planned, including a flagship event to be held at Lord’s Cricket Ground during next year’s Ashes Summer.

The National Osteoporosis Society, whose President is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, works UK-wide to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and fractures, raising awareness of the condition and the devastating impact of the fractures it can cause. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone, mainly due to poor bone health. However, future bone health is largely determined by the time an individual reaches their mid-20s and this is a crucial window of opportunity for both organisations to spread a hugely important message about the life-changing impact that exercise and good nutrition can have now and in the future.

Cricket carries the added benefit of being played outdoors. The National Osteoporosis Society is a leading authority on the benefits to bone health of vitamin D gained through safe exposure to natural sunlight during the summer months.

Chance to Shine has brought the social and physical benefits of competitive cricket to one and a half million children (44% girls) since it was launched, in 2005, by Governor of the Bank of England and President of the campaign, Sir Mervyn King. The programme of coaching and competition is currently delivered in over 4,500 state schools and 900 cricket clubs. In 2012 alone the charity will reach around 350,000 girls and boys and the charities’ aim is to bring to these children and their parents key advice on achieving good bone health.

Claire Severgnini, Chief Executive of the National Osteoporosis Society said, “Through this partnership, we will reach thousands of children and young people throughout the UK with evidence-based advice on exercise, diet and safe sun exposure. It is vital that we get the message across that the lifestyle choices we make from a young age have an impact on how healthy and strong our bones are as we grow older.”

Wasim Khan, Chief Executive of Cricket Foundation added, “The health and well-being of children is at the heart of Chance to Shine; so we’re delighted to announce this new and exciting partnership with the National Osteoporosis Society. Together we can help hundreds of girls and boys lead active lives, by getting them outside and playing cricket, and building strong bones at this key stage of their development.

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