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Issue Date:- 11 August 2008

Get Fit with the Olympics

THE national NHS website, NHS Choices (  marks the start of the Beijing Olympics with a new media package to inspire people of all ages and ability to get active and involved in grassroots sports and improve their fitness.

For the 1st time ever, 60 Olympians and Paralympians past and present, take part in an interactive video wall giving their daily health tips and motivational advice in short video clips.  The Olympians include Dame Kelly Holmes, Kriss Akabusi, Sally Gunnell, David Cracknell, Sharron Davies and Adrian Moorehouse. Paralympians featured include a host of medal hopefuls including Dave Roberts and Ian Rose.

The Get Fit with the Olympics section is packed with features on grassroots sport, inspirational case studies (from a 93-year-old swimmer to a table tennis prodigy saved from the streets), motivational videos and interactive tools to motivate people to kick-start their active lifestyle during the Olympic fortnight.

Double Olympic gold medal winner, Dame Kelly Holmes, taking part in the NHS Choices project, says:- "The Olympic Games has the ability to inspire a generation of young people to get involved in sport  The Olympics has the ability to inspire so many people from so many walks of life, so many backgrounds and so many abilities and disabilities to get involved in sport.

For me, sport is about giving people the chance to have confidence, self-esteem, leadership skills, communication skills, learn discipline, respect, especially for youngsters while enjoying themselves at the same time.

I think it's really important that sport is integrated into a young person's life so that when they are adults, it becomes normal for them.

I find that now, not being an athlete anymore, to try to fit in where to do activities is so hard because you have demanding lifestyles and a lack of time. But when you think about it, if you want to still look good, healthy and energetic, you have to look at it as a priority in your life."

Swimmer Mark Foster, 38, is one of Britain's most successful swimmers. He will be competing in his 5th Olympic Games in Beijing next month. Taking part in the NHS Choices project, Mark says:- ďsport is a fun way of teaching success and failure.  My father couldn't swim - he got thrown in a lake when he was 11. He still to this day can't swim and he was determined that myself and my sisters would learn purely for safety reasons first and foremost, and I think 90-95% of every Briton's holidays revolve around water whether it be the sea or a lake etc... People need to learn that the water is fun but there is also a serious side to it and you need to be safe."

Sally Gunnell, the only woman ever to hold 4 major track titles at the same time, says:- "I think the thing I took from my Olympic experience in Barcelona was just how strong the mind is. Itís something that we all have, itís a tool...

Now if Iíve got a certain thing I want to achieve whether thatís to lose weight, to get fit, career change, whatever it may be, to actually take yourself there and what that would actually feel like to achieve it... just spend time each day actually visualising in your mind what it would actually feel like to achieve your goal."

And not just Olympians are featured in the NHS project. People can go online and read the thoughts of some of the millions of people actively involved in sports in their spare time. 

Monica Sutton took up rowing when she was 58 in an effort to lose weight after developing diabetes.  ďMy life seemed to revolve around trying to lose weight. Diets and the gym were never far from my mind but they didnít do anything for me. (In 2003) I was approaching 20 stone and wearing size 26 dresses. I was pretty despondentĒ  In November 2003, she won a bronze medal at the British Indoor Rowing Championships. She has dropped from a size 26 to 12/14. 

'Bag it and Bin it' - Campaign to fight litter is launched by the Highways Agency

COUNCILLORS, taxi drivers and visitor attractions in the North West are among those backing the Highways Agency's campaign to remind drivers of the problems that litter can cause on motorways and major A roads.

As the Highways Agency's summer Bag it and Bin it! litter campaign gets underway in the region, local organisations are encouraging visitors to bag up their rubbish and dispose of it at home or reach their destination - instead of out of their vehicle window or in a lay by.  Part of its commitment to protecting the environment, the Highways Agency has produced a paper "Bag it and Bin it!" litter bag which can be used to store litter until it can be disposed of responsibly in a rubbish bin.

Among those backing the campaign in the North West are the Rheged activities centre in Cumbria and taxi drivers and Knowsley Council in Merseyside. 

In Highways Agency Area 10 which includes motorways and key A roads in Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and south Lancashire, almost £400,000 has been spent on litter clearance since November and 32,100 refuse bags of rubbish were collected from Highways Agency roads.  Knowsley Council, whose citizens are served by the M62 and M57, is working with the Highways Agency to tackle the problem.

As well as handing out the bags to residents visiting the Council's One Stop Shops, it is also handing them to local taxi firms for use by customers in their cars.

Councillor David Lonergan, Knowsley's Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Delivery, said:- "Knowsley's geography means it is the gateway to Merseyside for many visitors to the region, with 2 major motorways and a busy A road running through the heart of the borough. 

We want to ensure all visitors to the area remember it as a clean and bright place, as well as a place our residents are proud to call home."

Councillor Ken Keith, Knowsley's Cabinet Member for Corporate and Customer Services, added:- "We all have a part to play in improving our environment locally and we are delighted to be able to throw our full support behind this initiative.

At this stage we are supporting people to ensure they dispose of litter appropriately but in the near future, we plan to step up our enforcement action against those who do not."

For the Highways Agency, not only is litter unsightly and a threat to the environment, but clearing rubbish puts workers at risk of injury from moving traffic and diverts resources away from road maintenance and repairs. Litter can also block roadside drains and cause localised flooding.

David Grunwell, Highways Agency North West Divisional Director, said:- "The Highways Agency takes the issue of littering and fly-tipping very seriously but road users can play their part in helping us keep carriageways, verges and hard shoulders clear of rubbish.

It is important that people think about the consequences of littering, both to the environment and those roadworkers who put themselves at risk by clearing the litter that's left behind alongside roadside verges."

Bag it! Bin it! bags, which are recyclable and biodegradable, are available at a variety of outlets across the region such as some motorway services areas, tourism attractions.

The bags will also be distributed from the Highways Agency exhibition stands at shows across England this summer.

The national campaign is backed by the RAC and IAM Motoring Trust.

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