Leicestershire County Council has been awarded £442,800 of funding from Sport England to help low-income families get active with their children.
The authority, working in partnership with the Leicestershire Home-Start charities, the district councils and Leicester-Shire & Rutland Sport, is one of the first to receive investment from a £40 million National Lottery funding pot that Sport England has dedicated to helping families get active together.
Figures from the National Child Measurement Programme for 2016/17 show that around 20.3 per cent of Leicestershire schoolchildren in reception, and 29.6 per cent in year 6, were classed as overweight – better than the national average of 22.6 per cent and 34.2 per cent respectively.
Although the county council is bucking the national trend, it wants to support the development of a lifelong commitment to physical activity to further improve the rate of overweight children and the funds will be used to target inactive families with at least one child aged five to 10.
The scheme, which will be piloted initially in Harborough and North West Leicestershire over in the first year, will include:
- Working directly with families to assess physical activity needs, and co-produce a bespoke activity plan with achievable, time related goals;
- Weekly visits from volunteers who will review their physical activity plans and help with difficulties they’ve faced and attend activity sessions with families to boost their confidence and help them develop a manageable routine;
- Tailored, affordable family activities run by the district council’s physical activity development officers;
- Free or low cost physical activity opportunities featuring outdoor gyms, parks, bike routes and use of leisure centres.
Following the initial pilot phase, the project will roll out across the county.
Pam Posnett, county council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “I’m delighted that we have been successful with the National Lottery funding.
“The scheme will work around getting parents to encourage their children to take part in low-cost, enjoyable activities which they are able to take part in.
“It is important that families enjoy the benefits that taking part in physical activities can have. Not only will it help reduce the risks of long-term physical conditions, but it will also help with their mental wellbeing.”
Councillor Alison Smith MBE, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community Services at North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “This is excellent news and ensures supported families in our district will have more opportunities to get active, fit and healthy.
“Finances shouldn’t be a barrier to any family that wants to be healthy, and this funding will help us to support Leicestershire County Council in delivering programmes that are affordable, accessible and in many instances, free.
“We’re delighted to be piloting the scheme and grateful to Sport England for the funding, it will bring real benefits to the district.”
Sport England are funding organisations that help families get active together, because parents and close family members can have a big impact on children’s experiences. As well as giving children direct access to sporting opportunities.
Parents who are active themselves, and enjoy it, can encourage positive feelings about exercise and its value in their children.
Sport England's director of children and young people Jayne Molyneux said: “It’s not right that four in five children don’t get enough exercise and are missing out on the health benefits it brings. Just by seeing their parents being active, children can be inspired to do the same, and if they have an enjoyable experience they’re far more likely to continue as an adult.
“Parents have many demands on their time, and often lack the confidence to get active with their children. That’s why Sport England is working hard to make getting active with your children an easy choice.”