Primary schools can help spearhead a national drive to improve family fitness by signing up to a pioneering new health and wellbeing program for pupils and their parents.
Premier Transition – an initiative from leading children’s coaching company Premier Sport – gives parents the chance to attend fitness classes at their child’s school straight after dropping them off, or just before picking them up.
Participating schools are also given a 6-12 week program to educate pupils on the importance of active, healthy lifestyles – a key part of the national curriculum’s focus on wellbeing.
Olympic gold medallist and mother-of-three, Sally Gunnell OBE, says the scheme – thought to be the first of its kind anywhere in the UK – is a great example of how primary schools can work with parents to improve outcomes for the whole family, not just their children.
“The great thing about Premier Transition is that it removes some of the key barriers we know parents struggle with when it comes to family fitness,” she says.
“Not only do the classes provide parents with low-cost access to fitness facilities at a time when they would to be heading to school anyway, they also give them tips and advice on nutrition so they can help their families get fitter and healthier too.”
Gunnell was speaking as Premier Sport published research showing that UK children are missing out on the best possible start in life because their parents don’t have the time, money or knowledge to help them lead a healthier lifestyle.
Two thirds of parents polled by the company said they didn’t know enough to educate their children on healthy living, while 37% blamed lack of time and 30% cited the cost of healthy food and gym facilities as a barrier.
The survey also found that despite just 16% of children leading the healthiest lifestyle in their household, less than half of parents said they would be encouraging their children to get fitter over the next 12 months.
Gunnell says families need more support to get active if future generations are to thrive.
Parents lead very busy lives but we are facing a child obesity epidemic in this country, so it’s vital we do all we can to give our kids the best start in life – Sally Gunnell OBE, Olympic gold medallist
She said: “These are truly worrying statistics. Parents lead very busy lives but we are facing a child obesity epidemic in this country, so it’s vital we do all we can to give our kids the best start in life.
“A positive approach to healthy living starts in the home, but schools that sign up to Premier Transition will be demonstrating their commitment to supporting parents and ensuring a joined up approach to family wellbeing.”
The program, which is open to early years support and nurseries as well as primary schools, includes an option for in-school health and wellbeing classes for teachers, should enough staff show an interest.
Research from Premier Sport last year found that just 10% of UK youngsters are doing physical activity every day at school, while only 25% are managing an hour or more’s exercise a day.
The Children’s Inactivity study also found that 85% of parents think their children would benefit from more education around fitness in school, while 60% are worried about childhood obesity levels.