The Newfoundland and Labrador government is backing a plan to promote fitness among children by paying for after-school programs in more than two dozen gymnasiums.

The program is aimed at students between Grade 4 and Grade 9, and aims to keep them moving once their classes end.

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Health Minister Susan Sullivan says the new after-school program is part of a larger program to promote healthier lifestyles. ((CBC) )

"It's a preventative issue," said Health Minister Susan Sullivan, who attended a launch Wednesday at St. Matthew's Elementary in St. John's.

With Newfoundland and Labrador leading national rates of obesity among both children and adults, Sullivan said government hopes the program will help develop habits for a healthy lifestyle.

The program involves 25 different schools.

"As you can see, they enjoy the activity, and learn that a lot can be gained from physical activity. It's preventative from the perspective of being healthier and also teaching them the value of working together and understanding the importance of being active throughout their lives," Sullivan told CBC News.

The two-year pilot project will cost about $440,000, with schools receiving as much as $25,000 each.

Participating schools will be expected to provide after-school activity at least two days per week.