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Drinks giant teams with London mayor for obesity strategy

By Laurence Gibbons+

28-Jul-2014

Johnson is encouraging Londoners to become more physically active
Johnson is encouraging Londoners to become more physically active

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has teamed up with drinks firm Coca-Cola Great Britain for a £1M project to encourage Londoners to become more active and tackle obesity.

A £500,000 investment by the Mayor in his FreeSport programme will be match-funded by Coca-Cola Great Britain over the next two years to give approximately 34,000 people the chance to try new sports and activities.

It is expected that this combined grant of £1M will enable 34,000 people of all ages and abilities to access free sporting activities and provide grants for 600 London sports clubs and organisations.

Johnson said the FreeSport programme has given 330,000 people the chance to develop a sporting habit since it launched in 2009.

‘Lead healthier lifestyles’

“This fantastic investment means that we will be able to help tens of thousands more Londoners to get active, try something new and lead healthier lifestyles,” he added. “Whatever your age or ability, there is bound to be a sport or activity to suit, so give it a go.”

A key part of the £22.5M sports legacy programme FreeSport allows sports clubs, organisations, youth groups and community groups to apply for grants of up to £1,500 to run free activities for Londoners, of all ages and abilities, to encourage more people to try sports.

The Mayor has invested almost £900,000 in FreeSport which has engaged almost 60,000 people.

The match-funding from Coca-Cola Great Britain will allow the FreeSport programme to reach twice as many people by 2016. The scheme will specifically target those who traditionally are less likely to engage in sport, including women, the elderly, and black and minority ethnic groups.

The investment builds on the drink giant’s £20M ParkLives initiative to tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic.

The scheme offers free physical activities – such as tai chi, hula hooping, zumba, roller skating and rounders – to people in parks in the London Borough of Newham, Newcastle and Birmingham.

Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain said: “We want to inspire people to get active in a fun and engaging way that fits in with their life. Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives and the FreeSport programme encourage people of all ages to try something new and take part in physical activities that are free, fun and sociable.”

1M people

The firm aimed to engage with 1M people through the scheme by 2020, he added.

Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham said: “We launched Newham’s Every Child a Sportsperson programme to encourage a generation to take up sport by giving our young people the opportunity to try new activities and become more physically active.

“Our partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain will enable us to build on this scheme and reach even more of our residents, helping them to live healthy and active lifestyles. We strongly believe that these fun and social activities can inspire people to live a healthy, more active way of life that will help them achieve their potential.”

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