Fun way to fitness

THE pupils learned that keeping active through sport and staying healthy is as important as their school work at the Panthers on the Prowl Community Development Foundation Sports Expo this week. Participants were among 2000 pupils who take part in Panthers on the Prowl each year.

Years 5 and 6 pupils came from as far afield as Warrimoo and Mount Druitt to try 15 sports at 17 stations spread across the Panthers' stadium, including the football ground, training fields and gym.

They included rugby league, basketball, netball, athletics and tennis along with sports which children wouldn't usually try — such as karate, golf, European handball and gymnastics.

Penrith Panthers under-20s players and NRL first-graders Nigel Plum, Blake Austin, Tim Grant and Kevin Kingston helped development officers run the stations.

"The kids got confidence enjoying the different activities," said Penrith Public School teacher John Emmingham.

Karate was one of the most popular activities, according to many teachers.

Kingswood Public School teacher Jenny Dunstan said such days entice youngsters to turn off the computers or the TV and head outside.

"The kids were enthusiastic to show off their skills and improve in areas they weren't familiar with," she said. "A lot of kids are happy being on the computer and may not be riding their bikes or playing sport. There should be more community programs like this for children."

Panthers on the Prowl healthy active lifestyles teacher Darren Horgan runs the annual event and said it couldn't get any bigger than this year.

"Our hope is they get into community sports," he said. "For those who don't do sport outside school, many stop doing any sport when they leave school."

Penrith Panthers NRL player Kevin Kingston envied the youngsters.

"I would have tried a few more sports if there had been days like this when I was growing up," he said. "It's great to see all the smiles on the kids' faces."

Youngsters went home with showbags packed with goodies and contact details for getting involved in sports.

Footage from the day will be screened on TVS's local news (Channel 44) tomorrow at 6.30pm.

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