Cherwell's Youth Activator Harry Baker on keeping children active during COVID-19
Posted: Wed, 11 Nov 2020 13:17
At Active Oxfordshire, we work closely with Cherwell District Council to promote their highly successful FAST Programme, which provides affordable, fun and creative activities for children and families to enjoy. We've been talking to one of Cherwell's Youth Activators Harry about the challenges posed by COVID-19, and the difference getting active has made to children's mental as well as physical health:
My name is Harry and I am a Youth Activator for Cherwell District Council. I have been in the role for just over a year, which involves us going into different schools across the district and delivering fun and exciting sports sessions. We also ran the FAST programme, which is an after-school programme which gets the parent/guardian and child to exercise together in a fun way playing lots of different games and having specialist sports coaches coming in over a period of ten weeks.
How has COVID-19 impacted on your normal activities?
A lot has changed since I first started the role last year in September 2019, when we would predominantly deliver team games where children from all different classes would integrate and develop their communication and social skills. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 we have had to adapt our sessions to ensure everyone is still getting a good amount of exercise. We now deliver circuit-based exercises which allows the students to work individually and ensures they can socially distance. We now give each student a hoop 2 metres apart from each other, where they can complete the exercises - our sessions normally consist of 15 minutes of hard work! This includes 30 seconds of squats to 30 seconds of running on the spot. Once we have finished the circuits, we do 15 minutes of games such as musical statues and the reaction game.
We also deliver these circuit-based exercises at the FAST sessions, having each family in their own bubble with their groups of hoops together. The FAST programme helps get the whole family active in a time when everyone needs it - as many people are working from home, it's important to get out and keep exercising as a family to look after our physical and mental health.
Protecting children's mental health and well-being
This pandemic has been very challenging for a lot of people, with our youngest generations not able to enjoy their usual activities or see friends in the same way. With the support of Matt Gregor at Resilient Young Minds and Oxfordshire Mind, we created a 6-week Mental Health programme, which we now deliver to schools across the Cherwell District. The course consists of two parts with a half an hour presentation which looks at teaching the children how to manage their emotions as well as improving life skills such as resilience and self-esteem. The rest of the session consists of 30 minutes physical exercise, because extensive studies have found physical activity has a positive effect on people's mental health. You can see the impact that this fantastic programme has had below.
Thank you Harry, and keep up the amazing work!
Active Oxfordshire's Active 60 campaign aims to bring together families, partners and schools to make sure that every child in Oxfordshire can achieve 60 active minutes, every day. To find out more and get involved, please visit our Active 60 campaign page here.