3 October 2014

City gets healthier, happier children – by the thousand!

Thousands of children in schools across Brighton & Hove are trying out new ways of getting happier and healthier through a major new public health programme.

And so are their parents and teachers.

More than 30 schools in the city have already signed up to having their own unique action plan put together for them by Brighton & Hove City Council’s public health team to improve the health and wellbeing of pupils, parents and staff. At least another 15 are expected to join the programme by Christmas.

Children like Tabitha and Billy are already feeling the benefits of trying out new health and happiness activities.

Tabitha, 10, and her mum decided to sign up together for Family Shape Up, a course run by the city’s Food Partnership offering gentle exercise alongside expert advice on healthy nutrition.

Tabitha said: “I used to just sit around a lot and not get involved in clubs and things. That’s all changed now. The nutrition stuff has been really interesting and I’m now eating lots of new, healthier things. I’ve tried lots of different sports and activities, joined a gymnastics club and am giving hockey a go as well.”

Billy, 9, was lacking confidence until his mum put him forward for some Active for Life sessions that his sister Bella was involved in. Since then he’s tried lots of different activities and made new friends.

Billy said: “I’ve tried kick ball, quick cricket and ultimate tag. It’s been fun and some of the coaches have been a real laugh.”

The council’s director of public health, Dr Tom Scanlon, said: “This is the most exciting part of my job right now. Helping children and young people find new ways to being healthier and happier is an incredible investment in the future of our city.

“These programmes tailored to key health and lifestyles issues identified by the schools themselves represent some of the most cutting edge public health work happening in the country. We’re thrilled that so many schools have already signed up to our scheme.”

The sheer variety of health and happiness initiatives available means everyone can benefit from the scheme. Activities include:

  • Breakfast and after school club physical activity sessions that can involve parents once a term
  • Games and classroom challenges around healthy diets and active lifestyles
  • Mental health awareness workshops delivered by youth volunteers, looking at things like exam stress and the five ways to wellbeing
  • Cooking sessions for parents
  • Stop smoking services for parents and school staff
  • LGBT awareness workshops and staff training provided by local charity Allsorts
  • Drop-in sessions with school nurses, teenage pregnancy workers and youth workers
  • NHS Health Checks for staff and parents.

If you would like to know more about the council’s public health schools programme please email ph.schoolsprogramme@brighton-hove.gov.uk or phone 01273 296581.