Children and Young People
Every child in Essex, Southend and Thurrock should have the best start in life, whereby they are active, healthy and happy.
Active Essex recognises that positive experiences of being active at an early age are much more likely to mean an active adulthood. Hence why the Fit for the Future strategy includes children and young people as a priority for the upcoming 10 years. This initial year has seen their implementation plan draw upon the foundations to level up the playing field across Essex, Southend, and Thurrock; setting out to support those who are already active and tackling head on the root causes that currently prevent every child and young person in the county from the life changing impact of an active lifestyle.
This year saw Active Essex launch a bold new School Games Strategy, that would enable more children than ever before to develop, participate and compete in the Essex School Games. The approach to School Games in Essex is two-pronged; locally driven and targeted work which School Games Organisers coordinate in the 14 areas of Essex, Southend and Thurrock, and an Essex-wide collaboration and delivery through Active Essex.
The Essex School Games aims to inspire all young people to develop healthy habits for life and have the confidence to discover their love of being active. Read the Essex School Games strategy, here. To launch this new vision for the Essex School Games, School Games Organisers have delivered carefully planned and focussed physical activity intervention programmes, working together to benefit the schools and children who need support the most. Projects aim to support those who are least active to gain the confidence to 'Participate' and for those who need further help, guidance and individual support to 'Develop' their skills and enjoy physical activity.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games represent a life-changing opportunity for young people across Essex. Working with England Athletes and Essex Commonwealth Games Ambassadors, Jess Tappin and Dan Putnam, Active Essex have set schools challenges, with the athletes making appearances at various schools across the county in the lead up to the games.
The county is already starting to benefit from the development of bespoke resources, videos, celebration events and an Active Essex Legacy Leaders Award, designed to build resilience and life skills through sport and physical activity leadership. This helps to ensure Active Essex are well placed to engage young people to enjoy physical activity, challenge themselves, compete and work with others, contributing in a positive way to their overall wellbeing through our Essex School Games Programme.
*Active Essex Impact Tool
As well as programmes which run throughout the school day, extracurricular activities are becoming more significant. Active Essex were successful in receiving Opening Schools Facilities Funding, to support 47 schools across Essex. This enabled extracurricular sport and physical activity opportunities to get back up and running after the pandemic, as well as invest in equipment, coaching time and support staff. Therefore, making this an attractive option for schools to utilise their facilities for after school clubs and community use.
*Date from Active Essex Impact Tool
Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing
Since the pandemic, more young people than ever before are finding it hard to cope with how they're feeling. Physical activity is not only good for physical health, but also our mental wellbeing. Active children are less likely to report ill mental health and loneliness, and more likely to be trusting of others and more resilient. Physical activity is a great mechanism to support young people who may be struggling with their mental health, but it’s also an important tool to prevent poor mental wellbeing.
In May 2022, GP Dr William Bird joined an Active Essex webinar as part of their Essex Health Series to discuss the importance of physical activity on children's mental health. The audience feedback that the information presented will have a positive effect on work with regards to communication to families, helping to break down barriers and share ideas to make positive healthy lifestyle changes.
As part of Children’s Mental Health week (7th- 13th February) the Children and Young People team created a toolkit for schools to host a Walk & Talk event for their pupils. The purpose of the event was to encourage schools to go outside, get active and talk to their peers.
This event was on offer to all schools in Essex, with predominantly Primary School’s taking up the opportunity. The event was provided to school children to highlight the impact physical activity has to one’s physical and mental health, whilst also encouraging children to speak out to fellow peers as part of Children’s Mental Health Week.
Active Essex continue to work with colleagues in education to improve children’s mental health, and the Trauma Perceptive Practice (TPP) programme is a great example of this. TPP is an Essex approach to understanding behaviour and supporting emotional wellbeing for education settings, which incorporates a 'train the trainer' model, enabling each setting to have their own TPP practitioner trainer. This collaborative partnership has developed a physical activity element to the training and successfully piloted the course through this academic year. The physical activity element will be available to all TPP schools in the 2022/2023 academic year, supporting school leaders and teachers to gain confidence and understanding of how being active can help them support their pupil’s emotional wellbeing.
Improving Physical Literacy
Physical literacy plays an important role in how active children are. Providing children with the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life will much more likely result in an active adulthood. Physically literate children and young people are happier and have higher levels of individual and community development. An additional 39 schools were recognised for their excellent in delivery of physical activity, school sport and physical education in Key Stage 1 though the KS1 Physical Education, Sport & Activity Mark and we continue to regularly deliver Making the Most of Primary PE and Sport Premium workshops and webinars to aid schools and teachers maximise their sport, P.E and daily movement offer.
Active Essex have engaged with Essex County Council colleagues in the development of the new Early Years Strategy for Essex and have received funding through the Levelling Up agenda to deliver the “Ready 4 School” project, which will provide new pre-school physical literacy breakfast clubs for 300 of the most disadvantaged reception aged children and their families in Canvey Island, with the intention to aid children to reach a Good Level of Development by the end of reception.
Helping children and young people to move more
Having spent long periods at home, isolated and without routine, it was essential to bring back fun, inclusive and safe opportunities for children and young people to be active as soon as possible. The Find Your Active Campaign and small grants programme supercharged this, focusing on encouraging children and young people back into activities that they enjoyed.
Through the campaign, Active Essex developed relationships with the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service and are working collaboratively to get physical activity and sport into the children and family hubs across Essex. Targeted work focusing on children and young people that need our support the most has been a key driver this year. Again, through Find Your Active, Active Essex have provided funding for all care leavers aged 18-21 with a personal budget to spend on "finding their active". The pilot has been very successful with spend varying from mum and baby yoga classes, swimming, horse riding and second hand bikes. Learning is being digested and the team are continuing dialogue with social care colleagues to make physical activity and health and wellbeing a part of everyday conversations they have with young people and ensure that a regularly active lifestyle is achievable for all care leavers in Essex.
The Daily Mile continues to be delivered in schools across Essex throughout the academic year and school communities across Colchester, Basildon and Tendring have engaged in Street Tag and Beat the Street leagues, making the most of digital opportunities and new and exciting ways for young people to be active.
The past year has seen us develop numerous positive working relationships with system partners to embed physical activity into the everyday life of children and young people in Essex. We have focused our support on families, children and young people who have been most affected by Covid-19 or other health inequalities.Lee Monk, Active Essex lead on CYP
Involving Children and Young People in Decisions
Consulting and listening to children and young people, involving them at the heart of decision making, collectively ensures the county can provide inclusive opportunities for all. Over the past financial year, The Daily Mile has continued to grow in Essex, through adopting exciting new challenges and Essex Daily Mile Destinations to encourage and inspire regular daily movement throughout the school day. This has led to co-designing activities with schools and their pupils to ensure Active Essex’s work is driven by youth voice. This has been particularly successful with Greensted Junior School designing the Hike through History Daily Mile map, which incorporated historical physical activity events to periods within the history curriculum, helping to increase activity levels.
Active Essex continues to listen to the Multi Schools Council, who have prioritised sport and physical activity as one of their key topics. The Special School Games offer is born out of a request from the Multi Schools Council, for competitive sporting opportunities for children with disabilities. This continues to raise the profile, challenge negative perceptions, and provide opportunities for children with disabilities to participate in physical activity. Youth Voice has been a guiding principle to the Active Essex B2022 Commonwealth Games investment and will continue to inform their calendar for years to come. Local youth boards and sports crews from across the county have codesigned competitions, events and opportunities through the School Games and the Multi Schools Council have also designed a Commonwealth Games activity passport for the Essex Activate programme in recognition that there aren’t many opportunities to be active over the holiday periods.
Supporting Parents and Carers to create Safe Environments to be Active
Ensuring children and young people begin an active start to life, does go further than just what they participate in and can access at school. Active Essex recognise that they play an important role in ensuring young people have the right to take part in sport and physical activity free from harm and abuse. They recognise that some children are at increased risk and that their protection is of paramount importance. The safeguarding team has grown to reflect this commitment and developments are underway for the 'Safe to Play' campaign, which aims to highlight the role everyone involved in sport – parents, players, coaches and volunteers – can play in protecting our children and young people.
Active Essex have been collaboratively working on projects and initiatives to help the relationship between parents/carers and their children, to ensure they are equipped with resources and guidance in keeping them active whilst at home or travelling to school.
The climate change agenda is important for Active Essex to capitalise on, by promoting the use of active travel, both for work and to and from school. Initial discussions and implementations are being put in place such as Essex Pedal Power, Bikeability, 3PR and the WOW challenge, for both schools to adopt and for parents/carers to utilise. RideLondon-Essex took place in May, where collateral and resources were produced driving schools to utilise active travel initiatives and support families to adopt an alternative way of travelling to and from school.
Active Essex have been pivotal in advertising and funding innovative groups and clubs to provide activity sessions for the whole family. These include the ParkPlay offer, resources to begin Active Play and Find Your Active YouTube sessions, as well as working with local groups to advertise sessions on the Activity Finder. These interventions have been successful in their early stages, to engage the whole family unit and encourage behaviour change towards a more physically active lifestyle. Active Essex continue to support other services and organisations who work directly with parents and carers to help them feel confident talking to families about the importance of their children being regularly active.
Developing Skills for the Future Workforce
Active Essex are focusing on driving the development of a highly skilled, dynamic and diverse sports and physical activity workforce for the future, which includes school staff and PE specialists. The Active Essex Schools Conference, offered PE subject leads and Head Teachers in both primary and secondary schools in Essex the chance to connect with peers, share challenges and opportunities and pick up practical ideas that can be implemented immediately at schools in the county. Physical activity and school sport has a vital role to play in giving our children and young people the best start in life, so they can achieve their full potential and go on to lead healthy, happy and active lives. If schools are able to peak pupils interest in physical activity, this will hopefully inspire more children to explore a career in the sport and physical activity sector.
Throughout the past year, Active Essex have expanded their successful Leadership in Training Programme. Working with Writtle College, BTEC Sport Students are currently being supported via a pilot to provide them with industry relevant qualifications to CIMSPA minimum standards, volunteering and paid work opportunities through Essex Activate programme, and a series of talks from different organisations and people working in the Sport and Physical Activity sector. The aim is to enable further education students interested in a career in sport to feel better informed, with more industry relevant skills, experiences and qualifications that will support their next steps for whatever route they chose.
Active Essex also continue to work with community partners to offer apprenticeships for young people through the Coach Core Programme. Events such as the School Games and Special School Games have offered more leadership opportunities than ever before with young leaders, leading activities and helping to deliver these great initiatives. Active Essex are supporting children and young people to help build the skills and capabilities they need to enable them to determine and drive forward their own prosperity.