In September 2010 a programme of research commenced at Dublin City University (DCU) to investigate the need for intervention with second level youth in the area of physical activity. Based on this research DCU developed the Y-PATH programme in line with international best practice and in consultation with parents, teachers, and students. Please see the Y-PATH website (http://www.dcu.ie/shhp/y_path.shtml) for more information.

 

Programme aim: To enable all young people to lead sustained, physically active lives through the development of positive Physical Activity (PA) attitudes and habits, and fundamental movement skills.

  1. The first experience of Physical Education (PE) for the students at second level school will be Health Related Activity, with a focus on PA participation [i.e. move from PE being associated with a specific activity or sport, to being associated with learning to be active].
  2. PE lessons will focus on improving students’ fundamental movement skill levels, attitude towards physical activity, and PA self efficacy (Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one's own motivation, behaviour and social environment.)
  3. The climate in PE lessons will be motivational - all students learn that they can be active, experience a range of choice, and learn to challenge themselves and experience success within their own parameters.
  4. Parents/guardians and non-specialist PE teachers will be targeted as role models that can have a significant influence on students’ attitudes towards PA participation (move from traditional notion of PE teacher being the person in the school with sole responsibility for health and PA).

 

In the school year 2013/14 SDCSP linked in with DCU and started the rollout of the YPATH programme in first year classes in 8 secondary schools in the county. These pupils are at the critical period of transition from primary to secondary where research has shown a dramatic decline in physical activity levels. DCU sent sports science students to the schools to work with the school teachers (all of them and not just PE teachers) over the course of the year. Participation by a school on the YPATH programme requires a minimum of one double period of PE per week.

 

In late 2014 research on the programme in the schools showed that not only did the YPATH programme halt an expected decrease in physical activity levels and behavioural intentions over the year but it actually led to an increase in physical activity levels and improved fundamental movement skills.

In 2015/16, following increased funding support from the HSE, SDCSP plans to offer the YPATH programme to all secondary schools in South Dublin County.