Healthy Movers programme to help pre-schoolers prepare for full time education
Helping children start school with their best foot forward is the focus of a new programme being launched in Cornwall.
The Healthy Movers project, developed by children's charity the Youth Sport Trust, is being run by the charity and Active Cornwall to develop physical literacy in early years children to improve their school readiness and social mobility.
The initiative will provide three, four and five-year-olds with the opportunity to improve their physical development and develop their speech and reading.
Samantha Lawrence, from Active Cornwall, said: "In doing so, it will increase the children's self-esteem and wellbeing, develop agility, balance, and co-ordination, which all help children gain a better start to their life.
"These are areas where evidence points to children having suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic where they haven't had access to play and physical activity."
Healthy Movers will target those within areas of greatest need, including parts of Camborne, Redruth, Newquay, Illogan, Penzance, St Austell, Bodmin, Liskeard and Looe. Several other locations have also been identified as needing the programme's support.
Chris Wright, head of health and wellbeing at the Youth Sport Trust, said:
"We developed Healthy Movers in a bid to tackle declining physical literacy in early years children across the UK and improve their school readiness and social mobility. This has been exacerbated during the pandemic.
"We're really proud of the results to date and it is great to be working with Active Cornwall to be supporting families and early years settings. After a difficult 18 months, we have also made some of our Healthy Mover resources and videos free to access to fulfil our mission to help even more children."
The project was trialled in Cornwall in a pilot run from April 2019 - March 2020. More than 979 children took part, with 52 practitioners, along with 305 parents who attended stay and play sessions.
Every practitioner that took part rated their experience of Healthy Movers as good or very good, with 95% saying it had helped them further improve their relationships with parents.
It was felt that significant increases were seen in all key areas of children's learning.
Sam Lawrence said: "Practitioners reported changes in children's relationships, their ability to follow instructions and their listening skills - all of which are key to support their school readiness. Parents reported their child's physical activity levels and enjoyment of being active had increased.
"This feedback was fundamental in the decision to roll out Healthy Movers across Cornwall."
Physical Literacy Training focusing on how to develop the whole child through engaging, purposeful physical activities in the early years, as well as offering theory and practical ideas, will be provided as part of the project.
There will also be networking sessions for practitioners, ongoing support and plans to upskill the local workforce to become Healthy Mover tutors, to ensure sustainability of the programme.
Parents will be given the option to stay and play so they can enjoy the programme as well. It's also hoped that this will encourage families to continue activities at home with siblings and other members.
For more information on the Healthy Movers programme or to get involved visit www.youthsporttrust.org/programmes/healthy-movers or contact Chris Caws, Development Manager YST at email@example.com. For more information on supporting Early Years and families with physical activity in Cornwall, please contact Samantha Lawrence, Development Officer Active Cornwall at Samantha.firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Youth Sport Trust
The Youth Sport Trust is the UK's leading charity to empower young people and equip educators through sport and play. The children's charity was founded in 1995 and it works with around 20,000 schools. Sport gives young people a platform to have their voice heard and a place to feel they belong. The Youth Sport Trust harness this extraordinary power to change young lives today and help them build a brighter tomorrow. www.youthsporttrust.org.
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