YOUNGSTERS at a primary school welcomed the Royal Navy to celebrate the opening of an outdoor gym.
The Fresh Air Gym at Rowner Junior School was unveiled with the help of Royal Navy personnel from HMS Sultan in Gosport.
The state-of the-art facility includes a range of activity stations with air walkers, cross country skiing, exercise bikes, Tai chi spinners and table tennis table.
Before the new gym was opened, sailors from HMS Sultan put children, staff and parents through their paces.
Physical instructors led children through a host of warm up routines incorporating games such as Simon Says, follow the leader and a whole school rendition of the hokey-cokey.
Tyrese Bulze, seven, said: ‘I enjoyed meeting the navy and the games. The new gym looks really good and I’m looking forward to using the cross country skiing machine.’
Youngster Jessica Wise, eight, added: ‘This morning was fun. I really enjoyed Simon Says. I’m excited about using the gym. It’s cool that you can use the equipment outside.’
With a quarter of the school’s children coming from forces families, the sailors were keen to get involved in the initiative.
Chief Petty Officer James Simpson, said: ‘It was great to work with the children.
‘It’s important to educate children from a young age about the importance of exercise and being healthy.
‘Today’s session showed how exercise can be fun – it doesn’t have to be a gruelling experience.’
As the school has a high number of children from service families it was able to claim an £18,000 grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund.
Headteacher Kerry Payne said: ‘We wanted to provide a facility which can promote healthy living for the children and the wider community.
‘There’s a range of equipment designed for adults and children to use both individually and together.
‘It was a conscious decision not to build the gym indoors as we want to promote outdoor learning. It’s a well known fact that healthy children learn more effectively.’
The gym will be used at lunchtime and after-school clubs, including a weekly session for adults and children to exercise together. It will also be used during the school day.
Executive support officer at HMS Sultan, Steve Window, said: ‘Sport and exercise is important in bringing communities together.
‘It’s essential for the navy to get involved in such projects to both support service families and the wider community.’