Villa in the Community: Bacuna/Sylla teach kids about healthy living
Bacuna and Sylla paid a visit to Highfield Junior and Infant School in Saltley to find out more about our Villa Vitality scheme, which has run so successfully over the past eight years.
Villa Vitality is our flagship health initiative and one of the city's biggest childhood obesity prevention initiatives.
Working in partnership with Birmingham Public Health, the programme targets Year Five children living in areas with the highest obesity levels in the city.
The programme runs over a six week period and by teaching children about nutrition and healthy lifestyles, it aims to motivate kids into adopting positive long-lasting change, even when they have completed the scheme.
The programme, held over six weeks, sees over 3,000 children take part each year and is focused on two main days.
Day one is school-based and sees a dedicated nutritionist provide an interactive healthy eating session in the classroom.
This is supported by physical activity session delivered by Villa coaches.
Day two provides even more fun as children pay a special visit to Villa Park.
Children take part in a stadium tour, interactive learning class, youth gym session, and a healthy cooking workshop in our Food Academy kitchen with the Villa Vitality chef.
The scheme has risen in importance over the past few weeks with the worrying news released that by 2050 over 50% of the UK population could be obese, costing a whopping £50b per year.
Bacuna and Sylla played their part in tackling the issue, with their own take on fitness and health for the gathered kids.
They played the "sugar game" with the children, a lively Q&A session which aims to help kids discover how healthy or unhealthy certain drinks are.
The popular pair also gave an insight into their diet aswell as the importance of exercise in their roles as professional footballers - but also, in life generally.
They also participated in a football session in the gym, with Bacuna proving his down-to-earth personality by acting as ballboy at the end.
Bacuna said: "It's very important to eat healthily and take part in exercise - not just for children but for adults too.
"Saying that, it's vital that you start when you're young.
"If you are healthy you can do more things.
"Villa Vitality is great because it's educational but also fun.
"Sport is really important. It doesn't matter what sport you take part in. It doesn't matter how good you are either. Just get involved.
"It will be good for your body, your mind and will benefit you in future."
Dr. Adrian Phillips, Director of Public Health Birmingham, added: "I think the power of the football club is phenomenal.
"Every community values its football clubs and Villa are undoubtedly a big brand.
"Footballers are excellent role models for children too.
"Look at the appearance of Leandro and Yacouba at this event. It was tremendous. They were screaming to get close to them.
"This shows the power of football. This is big in changing mindsets.
"In Birmingham, we know one in four kids are clinically obese - not just overweight. That is a real problem.
"Tackling the issue is about eating healthily and being physically active. "Leandro and Yacouba were preaching this message. We heard about how much they train and what they eat. The message there was that you can be healthy and have lots of fun."
Read more about Villa Vitality here.