A charity’s efforts to give people a sporting chance at keeping well have been backed by one of the country’s best ever runners.
Since it was set up 14 years ago, The Foundation of Light has aimed to educate young people and their families, and improve their health and well-being.
Now, Steve Cram has voiced his support for the work of the organisation, which is Sunderland AFC’s official charity, and its work.
Steve, one of the UK’s best-ever middle-distance runners, is a trustee of the foundation and has a special interest in the work the charity does in getting people fitter, and helping people to focus more on living healthier lifestyles.
He said: “With education, it’s easier to get funding and measure outcomes.
“Health and well-being is so important, but nobody seems to own it – is it the NHS, is it Sport England or is voluntary organisations like the foundation?
“There doesn’t always appear to be a national cohesive strategy, so I think it’s vital that bodies like the Foundation provide good, strong outcomes and continue to tackle health issues at a very local level.”
Steve said he was immensely proud to be involved with the foundation, and of the work it does in the city and beyond.
He added: “There is a phenomenal amount of people whose lives have been improved by the work of the foundation.”
The charity has launched its stand-alone website, www.foundationoflight.co.uk, to champion the inspiring stories and information on health and well-being.
The Jarrow Arrow was sure the foundation’s unique relationship with SAFC can help provide the inspiration needed to encourage people to live healthier lives.
He said: “The players can be role models who can create that initial spark of interest.
“They can get the attention of young people. It’s then our role to provide the spaces, facilities and coaches to encourage people in Sunderland to live healthier lifestyles.”
Steve believes that in the future, Foundation of Light could deliver services on behalf of the NHS or extend work done on behalf of Sport England.
He believes one way to improve the fitness and health of communities is through families.
“All you need is one family member in a household to take up running or some form of regular exercise and mums, dads, brothers, sisters, daughters or sons can follow,” he said.
“We’re not looking to create Olympic champions, we just need more people to think more about exercise and eating the right things.
“Running and other sports can also do wonders for your self-confidence and self-esteem”
Steve said he is excited at the prospect of expanding that work once the £15million Beacon of Light opens to visitors.
The new building will be a centre of education and sport and will be constructed next to the Aquatic Centre and near to the Stadium of Light.