A WARRINGTON Hospital project has seen more than 1,000 primary school pupils given tips on how to keep their hearts healthy in the past six months.

Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Smart Heart programme was launched in December, with cardiology consultant Dr Ahmed Farag and his team visiting schools twice-a-week to deliver talks on the importance of exercise, healthy eating and the dangers of smoking to year four pupils.

Now the scheme has marked the milestone of reaching its 1,000th youngster, all of whom are aged eight or nine.

Dr Farag said: “The idea of the project is to empower kids to make the right choice as they are growing.

“Through learning some key facts about the heart and how it works, they come to appreciate how amazing it is and how important it is to look after it through healthy diet, exercise and particularly by avoiding smoking.

“What we found is that we are actually creating a team of health ambassadors who then carry the message back home and disseminate it.”

A visit to Locking Stumps Community Primary School in Birchwood on Wednesday, June 28, saw the Smart Heart programme hit the 1,000 mark.

Dr Farag added: “We have had amazing feedback from parents saying how they changed their diet, increased their exercise and we even have some parents who stopped smoking after their eight-year-old kid told them about the serious health consequences of smoking.

“Pupils have been writing back to us with posters and artwork about the heart and the dangers of smoking, and so we decided to display these posters in our hospital’s corridor as a powerful health message to the public.

“By doing this we are creating a two-way system in which our hospital is an essential hub that gives to and receives from the community.

“By focussing on prevention rather than cure I see this intervention as a worthwhile investment in our future, particularly with all the financial constraints that the NHS if facing and I am determined to do this on a yearly rolling basis.”

Any schools interested in hosting talks for the 2017/18 academic year can email communications@whh.nhs.uk for more information.