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with Darwen residents are being urged to paint their towns red during
February to mark National Heart Month.
National Heart Month is supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which helps to organise events during the month to raise money for heart research and to increase awareness about heart health.
As Blackburn and Darwen are British Heart Foundation ‘Heart Towns’, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Care Trust Plus are also organising a number of events.
On Friday, February 1, Council and Capita staff will take part in Rock up in Red day, which will see employees wear red to work and donate money to BHF.
Also on the day staff at Waves and Darwen Leisure Centre will be challenging each other to a sponsored cycle race to see who can cycle the furthest.
Visitors are invited to drop in and make a donation and to have a Free NHS Health Check, which will be available at both centres from 9.30am - 4.30pm.
On Saturday February 2, shoppers in the Mall will be treated to a Flash Mob demonstration by DAPA (Dance and Performing Arts Academy) and Motivate, a sport and leisure group for people with disabilities.
Volunteers will perform an awareness raising dance spectacle to the tune of BHF's theme 'Staying Alive'.
Other activities include Zumba taster sessions, soft tennis, badminton, NHS health checks as well as musical performances in Victoria Square.
Shoppers will also be able to have a free NHS health check between 9.30am and 4.30pm.
Gym challenges are being run at all the borough’s leisure centres throughout the month. The sponsored challenges are open for anyone to take part and sponsor packs are available from the centres.
Blackburn and Darwen were among the first fifty towns in the UK to become Heart Towns in a scheme run by BHF.
The aim is to raise awareness of heart disease and sees residents offered a raft of support services including; schools initiatives, workplace health and health and lifestyle information resources.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “When we signed up for Heart Town we were determined that we should make the most of working with the British Heart Foundation and to do as much as we could to raise awareness about heart disease.
“This is an extremely important issue in Blackburn with Darwen, where it kills more than 250 people each year and is the biggest cause of inequalities in premature death and disability.
“I hope that residents will get behind this initiative and come down to the events to lend their full support.”
Dr Chris Clayton, Chief Clinical Officer of the Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Board, said: “Heart disease is an issue which has a big impact on the lives of many people in this borough.
“There are several factors, that can increase the risk of developing this condition including high blood pressure, smoking and blood cholesterol levels.
“However, luckily it is something that diet and exercise in many cases can have an impact on and with simple life style changes we know these risks can be reduced.”
Councillor Damian Talbot, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Young People, said: “We have invested a lot into getting people active in this borough and have made huge strides in this area by boosting activity levels.
“The re:fresh programme has been a sustained campaign by the Council and Care Trust Plus to improve access to leisure facilities and to get people using them.
“However, we recognise there is still some way to go and I would urge people to take another look at the huge programme of activities including free leisure and specialised health trainers that we offer.”
Barbara Dunn, BHF Fundraising Volunteer Manager in Blackburn, said: “It's fantastic that Blackburn with Darwen are organising so many events for "Rock up in Red" on February 1 and for the rest of National Heart Month."
"We urge everyone to come along and join in, get a health check and pick up any free literature to help improve your heart health and also find out what being a Heart Town means to you."
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Healthy Communities Partnership, or who would like to take part in Rock up in Red Day can contact Louise Jarrold on (01254) 694503 for fundraising resources such as t-shirts.
For more information on free NHS Health Checks, or to book an appointment, please contact HealthRoutes on (01254) 682037