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JIS News

Some 34 schools are preparing to participate in the Ministry of Health’s Regional Cheer-offs, which begins today.
Eliminations will commence in the Southern Region at the Kendal Campsite at Shooter’s Hill in Manchester and will see schools from the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and Manchester vying for three available places from the region. These teams will then go on to National Finals of the 2006 Healthy Lifestyle Cheerleading Programme set for May.
Last year, second place winners in the Healthy Lifestyle Cheerleading Programme National Finals, Bishop Gibson High emerged from this region.
Marion Scott, Behaviour Change Communication Officer for the Healthy Lifestyle Programme told JIS News that there was significant buzz around this year’s competition as schools were ready to up the ante in terms of performances like last year’s winners, Clan Clarthy High School.
She said there was a noticeable improvement in the skills of the participants in the programme, which is now in its fourth year.
“We have healthy lifestyle camps and these are primarily for the cheerleaders. But, apart from the training during the school year and the finals, the students have the opportunity at these camps to be involved with our cheerleading Technical Director [Brian Campbell] and he brings along his gymnastics coach and dance teachers so that the students can get off to a professional start,” she explained.
As for the growing popularity of the programme, Ms. Scott said that it had come a long way as when the cheer-offs was initiated, the participating schools were mainly drawn from the parishes of St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew.
Ms. Scott also reminded that the cheerleading programme was not solely about physical activity but also included an educational component.
“Students have the opportunity to get a better feel for what healthy lifestyles are all about by participating in the other aspects such as an environmental project. They can make presentations to their school and community so that other people can also benefit,” she said.
Further examples of projects that are implemented by the cheerleading clubs within the participating schools include: recycling plastics and beautification activities, such as planting trees and flowers.
“We have found that a lot of schools have put up garbage bins at strategic locations in order to stop littering and have also cleaned up and repainted areas,” Ms. Scott added.
Meanwhile, Cheer-off activities will move from the Southern Region to the North-east Region on February 25 at the Montego Bay Community College in St. James. Schools from the parishes of St. James, Hanover, Trelawny and Westmoreland are expected to participate.
Cheer-offs for both the North-east and South-east Regions will take place at the National Indoor Sports Complex, at the National Arena on March 11. Schools from the remaining parishes will turn out to participate. There will be at least 12 or more schools from the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew alone.
Overall, 12 schools will be selected to take part in the finals at which time the winner will receive a cash award of $120,000.