Resilient Revolution

An article on the BBC website states that Children from low income families are far more likely to face mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. 

"Blackpool is one of England's most deprived towns but a new £10m scheme (Resilience Revolution) there is trying to help families cope with their hardships. "

Schools have a massive part to play in building resilience, those working in schools are at the coal face of what is happening in young people's lives, almost on a daily basis. Moreover the link between physical activity and mental health is clear. 

An article on found that "Obese children are more likely to suffer from mental health problems when they start secondary school, a new study has found.

Research by the University of Liverpool found that mental health and obesityare closely linked and overweight seven-year-olds are at greater risk of emotional problems such as anxiety or depression by the time they reach the age of 11.

Charlotte Hardman, a senior lecturer at the university and co-author of the study, said the two were “intertwined”."

On the flip side, increased physical activity can lead to:

- better sleep – by making you feel more tired at the end of the day
- happier moods – physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy
- managing stress, anxiety or intrusive and racing thoughts – doing something physical releases cortisol which helps us manage stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times.
- better self-esteem – being more active can make you feel better about yourself as you improve and meet your goals
- reducing the risk of depression – studies have shown that doing regular physical activity can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a period of depression
- connecting with people – doing group or team activities can help you meet new and like-minded people, and make new friends.

With such clear and poignant evidence on the benefits of physical activity and mental health and resilience, we have decided to start developing a support package for schools. Resilience and mental health will be one of the themes we will focus on and we will begin offering this to schools from September. The package will centre around 6 themes spread across the year, one day per half term. Each theme will be delivered over the course of one day, with structured plans, resources, success criteria, assemblies and more. Schools can select the children, classes, year groups, focus groups they feel the days would benefit the most.

We have an idea of what the 6 themes are, resilience will definitely be one of them. However, we are always open to suggestions and would to hear your suggestions, whether it is creativity, leadership, or a day for support staff and giving them and active role in the school. We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in preparation for September.

What 6 themes would you choose?

Obesity the second biggest cause of cancer!

You may have heard the public health warnings this week that obesity is the second biggest cause of cancer! Something that is so avoidable, but we are not doing enough to encourage active lifestyles.

This article by The Guardian demonstrates that active children are more likely to become active adults.

St Joseph's School in Bridgwater have recorded 13,530 minutes of physical activity this week with our playground and web app, simply amazing and they are certainly doing there bit to tackle the crisis head on and at the root of the problem.

13,530 minutes!! Staggering.

What an amazing feeling to know that we are making a difference in children's lives by getting them more active.

#education #mentalhealth #cancer #resilience #resilience #growthmindset #living #publichealth

Healthy Children Healthy School

Healthy Children Healthy School

This is backed up by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who state that regular activity helps children to:

  • feel good about themselves

  • concentrate better

  • sleep better

  • have a positive outlook on life

  • keep a healthy weight

  • build healthy bones muscles and joints.

A healthy and active school is surely going to be a happier school. Inspired Playgrounds has developed a unique way to get the children at your school more healthy and active through out the school day.

Record number of severely obese children

The data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for children for the year 2016/17 shows one in 25 10 to 11 year olds were severely obese. 

That's more than 22,000 children, and the highest level since records began.

The data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for children for the year 2016/17 has detailed the trends in severe obesity for the first time. 

The programme found:

  • More deprived areas have a much higher rate of overweight and obese children, compared to the most well-off areas. 
  • This disparity is happening at a faster rate in school leavers in year 6, than in reception age. 
  • The figures did however show a downward trend of reception age boys being overweight and obese.
  • When records began in 2006/07, one in 32 primary school leavers were severely obese.
  • Severe obesity is BMI on or above the 99.6th percentile for a child's age and sex.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said the trends were "extremely worrying and have been decades in the making - reversing them will not happen overnight." - Or click link below

Record number of severely obese children

So what is being done about this problem, or crisis if you will?

The Sugar Tax levy was introduced in April 2017, where the tax has been increased on sugary drinks companies such as Coca Cola and Pepsi. However, no additional tax has been imposed on sugary products such as sweets and biscuits etc, perhaps it should be? It has been demonstrated in the article linked above that sugary drinks consumed by 5 - 19 year olds is above 15% of their daily intake of calories, when it should be below 5%. This clearly outlines the problem and the sugar tax is the first measure to solve this problem, it will be interesting to see if the additional costs imposed on manufacturers and consumers alike will reduce these numbers. This Guardian article shows that biscuits consumed by this age group is very concerning, backed up by the BBC, who also show that biscuits, along with sweets, cakes, preserves and pastries is also very high. This highlights that the tax is warranted across all sugary items.

This would certainly be an unpopular move with adults, as we all love to indulge now and again, or perhaps too much is some cases. I suppose the biggest question is around whether this additional tax will reduce consumption of sugary drinks, and if it is proven to do so then it has been warranted. Public Health England are engaging with the food sector to reduce the amount of sugar in their products and have demonstrated in this article "We have seen some of the food industry make good progress, and they should be commended for this. We also know that further progress is in the pipeline. However, tackling the obesity crisis needs the whole food industry to step up, in particular those businesses that have as yet taken little or no action." - Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England.

One option that keeps popping up on my timeline is the need to make healthy food cheaper, whilst I do believe this would help, it does seems like an excuse to some extent. In a future article, I will research into this and form a more detailed opinion. For now, lets focus on the sugar tax and its impact.

The additional tax has been plowed into Primary Schools, schools with 16 or fewer eligible pupils receive £1,000 per pupil and schools with 17 or more eligible pupils receive £16,000 and an additional payment of £10 per pupil. There is no mention of the impact of the money in Primary Schools in this article is below. So the impact expected purely from sugar reduction is clear, but imagine the additional impact schools can have with the huge amount of money injected.

My experience is largely limited to Somerset and the South West of England, so I would be interested to know if this is replicated across the country.

I completely understand that Primary Schools have had big cuts to their budget, whilst the PE funding has significantly increased. But this is not an excuse to use the PE funding to supplement other pots of money where there are shortfalls. As has been illustrated above, significant research is being done on the impact of reducing sugar in products, but on the flip side, not enough is being done to monitor how schools are spending this money. We are on the front line, and see both obese children that are in desperate need for both healthy meals, but also additional exercise throughout the week, which is what the funding is designed for.

I would love to hear some success stories from schools and how they have spent their money and seen positive impact. My fear is that if a positive impact is not demonstrated across the country then the money will disappear and schools will still have a shortfall across the curriculum, but this will also include PE and sport.

I want to finish with a success story of a school near me, in fact my daughter will be starting there in September, St Mary's in Bridgwater. They have such a wide array of sport available to the children, they use an external coach to deliver PE lessons to the children. They have implemented 'Challenge 15' to get each child active for 15 minutes per day, 'Change for Life' clubs, Staff CPD, 'Inspired Playgrounds' and data tracking, 'Healthy Futures' initiative and a wide array of extra-curricular clubs.

I know there is a plug in here as they have bought into Inspired Playgrounds, however this article isn't about us and perhaps the biggest success story there is the amazing PE co-ordinator Sarah and the sporting ethos the school has created. They celebrate sporting achievement and activity levels and this is reinforced with awards during their celebration assemblies. I am so pleased that Isabelle got a place here, I'm sure she will love it.

To conclude, the money is there to have a real impact, please, please, please, use the money where is meant to spent. The children in this country need to be more active as we lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles, lets make a difference and make the youngsters of this nation healthier.

Record number of severely obese children

A record number of primary school children are leaving school severely obese, according to new figures from Public Health England highlighted in a recent BBC news article.

In summary, the data shows one in 25, 10 to 11 year olds were severely obese, which equates to more than 22,000 children in total, the highest level since records began. The levels of childhood obesity have remained fairly stable in recent years, but the new analysis shows that severe obesity has been on an upward trend over the last decade.

The report also highlighted that more deprived areas have a much higher rate of overweight and obese children, compared to the most well-off areas. It added that the disparity is happening at a faster rate in school leavers in year 6, than in reception age. More positively, the figures did show a downward trend of reception age boys being overweight and obese. In overall terms however, the figures did indicate a worrying trend since when the records began in 2006/07, a much smaller figure of one in 32 primary school leavers were severely obese.

Ben Kirk of Inspired Playgrounds said; "Reports on increasing childhood obesity are coming out regularly now, and whilst it is important to try and improve the diets of our children, it also important that they undertake more exercise. Children can learn how to enjoy exercise while at school given the right conditions. This is something we passionately believe in at Inspired Playgrounds." 


Childhood Obesity in England & Wales - Are 22,000 children really obese?


A recent study by Public Health England and Wales has revealed that almost 60% more children in their last year of primary school are classified as "severely obese" than in their first year. 

BBC news published details of this report in May 2018 that you can read in full here.

Marcus Holmes, Director of Inspired Playgrounds said: "The evidence is mounting, there has now been lots of research into the health of children in our country and the general consensus is that obesity is on the rise which shows how important it is for children to be getting more exercise.

Children learn how to read and write, so it is important that they learn to enjoy taking exercise as well. Inspired Playgrounds was developed to help children enjoy exercising at school.

Government Report - Evidence of Childhood Obesity is Rising

This recent government report highlights that evidence of Childhood Obesity is on the rise click the image to read the full report.. 

Ben Kirk co founder of Inspired Playgrounds said that "Sadly children have become more sedentary as lifestyles change from active habits to more digital one. Our goal is to try and get children to be more active because they are enjoying moving around and having fun. Where better to learn that than at school"