Having spent 14 years competing at international and Olympic level for Ireland in athletics, two-times Olympian James Nolan switched his focus to helping young people develop their core motor and fitness skills.
James was determined to address the decline in participation levels of Irish children in physical activity and the resulting growing obesity epidemic.
Through his international athletics career and later studies, James witnessed the successes of physical activity programmes for children in many other countries. While coaching basic motor and fitness skills in South Africa he became passionate about this particular approach and its potential benefits to children and communities. This gave him the vision to bring these best practice techniques back to Ireland.
FAST Kids (Fun, Agility, Skills, Technique) is a child-centred programme that is fun, team-based, and designed to offer immediate appeal to children and parents. It has been highly recommended by volunteers, teachers and coaches due to the high level of engagement by the children taking part. James brought the programme to a range of primary schools in Co. Offaly where it was a huge success and expanded quickly.
The overall goal of the programme is to increase children’s involvement in and love for sport and to improve their future health status and quality of life. FAST Kids achieves this through the provision of direct and appropriate child-centred training and upskilling for teachers, coaches and volunteers.
FAST kids was recently renamed Sportshall Athletics, supported by local sports partnerships and Athletics Ireland. Programmes are based on international best practice for introducing children to the world of sport and developing their fundamental agility, balance and coordination. Current programmes include Offaly Inter School Sports hall Athletics Competitions, the Inter County Sports hall Event and the Fit School Award.
It has expanded from Offaly into Wicklow, Kildare and Dublin. While James is no longer directly involved, he is currently the head of Paralympic Athletics at Paralympics Ireland and is the athletics coordinator at UCD.
We all learn more effectively through play and positive experiences.