The first interactive health and wellbeing hub to be installed anywhere in Ireland has been unveiled at Loughshore Park in Jordanstown.
The new piece of hi-tech play equipment, located adjacent to the existing children’s play area, is designed to help address the growing childhood obesity epidemic by encouraging physical activity among young people.
The FieldLab project, funded by the European Union, is helping to combat worrying trends of inactivity among children through the development of smart-playground hubs across five European towns and cities. And Ulster University, in partnership with Newtownabbey Borough Council, has installed the first interactive hub on the island of Ireland at Loughshore Park.
The initiative will complement the university’s world-leading sports research by providing a research and development facility in a real-life setting. Children and adults will be able to choose from a number of fun and educational games that endorse healthy exercise habits, and the university will be able to monitor usage, run dedicated healthy lifestyle sessions and provide advice about the benefits of staying active.
Working in partnership with leading Dutch producer of sport and play equipment, Yalp Interactive, Ulster University’s research will help identify areas for innovation and product improvement.
“Through the FieldLab project, Ulster University is reinforcing its position at the forefront of sport and exercise research which is helping to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities across Europe and beyond,” explained Kyle Ferguson from the Ulster Sports Academy.
“The FieldLab is a truly unique initiative that offers an outdoor space for exercise powered by technology. As a result of the recommendations made by Ulster University, the company will make improvements and new games will be uploaded on to the equipment each month based on the children’s feedback. Ultimately, the university will be able to monitor and report on the benefits of an active lifestyle for the health of future generations.”
Speaking at the launch of the FieldLab, which was attended by university researchers and local schoolchildren, Mayor Thomas Hogg said: “Newtownabbey is very privileged to be boasting one of these unique FieldLabs - the first of its kind anywhere in Ireland.
“Loughshore Park lends itself perfectly to this outdoor hub and this latest piece of equipment will further contribute to the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors alike.”