Children and Young People

Strategic Priority

Children and Young People

With a clear focus and priority on raising the number of children’s positive attitudes towards physical activity, and as a result increasing activity levels among young people, Active Essex have utilised extensive research, co-designed a countywide campaign, and embedded themselves across a number of different sectors this year. This has enabled them to significantly contribute to the vision set out within Fit for the Future – to ensure every child has the best start in life, whereby they are active, healthy and happy.

From engaging schools with CPD offers and inspiring them to get involved in initiatives to increasing children’s aspirations to participate in physical activity, they are working to create the right environments and inclusive communities that provide the opportunities for young people to be active. The work has been wide ranging to target not only children and young people, but those that influence and inspire them.

of children in Essex state that they have confidence in getting active
of Essex children do not participate in recommended 60 mins of activity a day
of children living in Essex say that they are competent in getting active

Inclusive and supportive schools and communities

Supporting schools to deliver high quality PE and school sport and developing a highly skilled and dynamic workforce, has been the motivation behind a successful Essex School Games programme, Key Stage 1 Award scheme, PE conference and FA Girls’ Football partnership festivals.

The 2023 School Games programme included a county cross-country event, Rounders competitions, Cricket finals and TEES golf competitions. The School Games calendar was also refreshed this year, to include the Teach Active and Essex Year of Numbers initiatives, alongside an enhanced offer of Panathlon and The Daily Mile. The School Games programme also included targeted initiatives, such as ECO friendly projects and the set up of School Sport Youth Boards.

In order to address the lack of positive attitudes associated with physical activity from children and young people in Essex, Youth Boards have been consulted with to ensure School Games events, and other county-wide initiatives are relatable for young people. This evidence has also contributed considerably to the foundation of the Essex campaign, Move With Us.

Young people took part in School Games events this year
Inter-school events run by School Games Organisers
Young people living with a disability took part in events
Hear all about the 3 tournaments that took place across Essex 2023

Key Learnings

It's important to take time to reflect and understand the learnings from work undertaken, in order to focus on ways to improve in the future.


Conflicting priorities

Increased workload among teachers remains a challenge to attract them for CPD courses.


Youth voice

Listening to young people helps to build the right opportunities to engage them in activity.

Report School

High demand

High level of engagement for more competitive opportunities relating to School Games.


Active Essex received funding from Essex County Council, to deliver a programme relating to the Essex Year of Numbers. This helped to broker a partnership with Teach Active to allow school teachers to access a number of resources to deliver Active Maths Festivals. Schools selected students to attend these festivals who had not previously engaged with traditional lesson delivery, or find maths challenging.

In addition, this funding has also allowed Active Essex Children and Young Person Strategic team, to host Count with Courtney Challenges. Consisting of activities from the Teach Active website, the Move With Us ambassador Courtney Tulloch, GBR Gymnast has hosted videos to challenge schools as part of the celebration around Essex Year of Numbers.

Active Maths festivals funded
Count with Courtney Challenges to date
Classes engaged with challenges
Get to grips with one of the challenges which engaged over 100 schools

The second year of Opening Schools Facilities (OSF) funding has been rolled out, with over half a million pounds committed to 40 schools across the county, supporting institutes to open their facilities past the school day.

This has led to spaces for physical activity opening for communities to access new opportunities. Not only is this benefitting the school environment and children’s activity levels but benefiting the wider access to sport for community residents.

Schools funded through the OSF programme
Total attendances from school children
Total attendances from community residents

Take a look at our case study

Children and Young People

Opening Schools Facilities

Encouraging schools to open their facilities to the benefit of the public.


Providing fun, safe, inclusive and positive experiences

Following Active Essex’s involvement on the Children’s Partnership Board, it was expressed as a desire to produce a children’s campaign to increase activity levels, get young people outside and boost children’s mental wellbeing.

With the Active Partnership as key leaders with this agenda, the team worked alongside the Essex County Council Data and Insight team to conduct 7 focus groups to gain insight and understanding of barriers, motivators, and attitudes towards physical activity from young people living in the county. Active Essex have played an important role in influencing system partners to join the movement and adopt the campaign, and its messaging to drive their own agenda.


Read more about Move With Us

Essex's new children's campaign

Launched in September, see how it has unfolded and grown across the county.

Move With Us Header 2

In order to ensure experiences of physical activity are deemed positive, the Children and Young People Strategic Team developed a range of workshops to strengthen the sectors understanding of physical literacy and its relationship with getting children active. This included a well-attended workshop at the Share-Connect-Collaborate networking event, the PE Conference and a course in Health and Safety in PE.

Active Essex were successful in receiving Path to Paris funding, and an engagement plan was drawn up which is now underway. Conversations took place with the BOA, Multi-Schools Council and a focus group with Mistley Kids community group to gain insight from children and parents around the current local physical activity opportunities, how this initiative could build upon the foundations already set, and to understand where the gaps are.

The funding received has helped to initiate participation in SEND schools across the county for paralympic sports, to support the lead up to the newly rebranded Special School Games, now named Invincible Games.

Watch the livestream of the Essex Path to Paris launch

Resilient children and young people

A partnership with the Youth Sport Trust saw a new programme called Active in Mind begin in September, with 120 school staff trained through virtual and face-to-face training, the recruitment of 40 young Mental Health champions and 120 children supported through athlete-led targeted Active in Mind programmes.

Huge successes also came for the Active Essex Foundation, after they were successful in receiving funding from the National Lottery for a new project using sport and physical activity to support young people with poor mental health. Working across the county, the project will work with local organisations to help over 2,000 young people who are struggling with their mental health. In addition, the work of the Active Essex Foundation has allowed Active Essex to demonstrate to the Youth Justice System that sport is an effective tool to enhance positive outcomes for young people.


Read more about the Active Essex Foundation

Strengthening Communities

Take a look at the charity arm

Read about reducing anti-social behaviour and supporting mental health initiatives.

Active Essex Foundation

Safe and accessible neighbourhoods

This year, schools have continued their Active Travel plans, following the funding from the School Active Travel grant, with thanks to London Marathon Foundation, as a result of Ford RideLondon-Essex.

Encouraging safe neighbourhoods and developing existing spaces has led to a strong partnership continuing with ParkPlay. 14 locations are now engaged with families and young people attending and utilising their green space.

At the beginning of the year, Active Essex aimed to ensure 100 young people from a lower-socio economic background would receive a free bike through the Essex Pedal Power programme. However, this has since increased to 200 bikes being distributed to eligible children on Canvey Island through the CPR School Sports Partnership, and 245 children bikes given out through the Harwich and Dovercourt programme.


Stable and thriving families

Recognising the wider family unit, and influence of parents, the Children and Young People team have prioritised creating stable, secure and resilient families to make healthy lifestyle choices.

A key portfolio of Active Essex’s family work is the Essex ActivAte, Holiday Activity and Food programme, engaging with over 10,000 children and young people throughout the school holidays. Surveys collected at the end of each holiday helped to provide insight that children’s knowledge and skills have improved, developed more positive attitudes towards physical activity and now feel confident when taking part; all contributing towards Active Essex’s aims.


Read more about Essex ActivAte

Strengthening Communities

The Holiday Activity and Food Programme

Read about the impact the programme and providers are having on families across Essex.

Essex Activ Ate

With the goal of collaborating with system partners to hardwire physical activity to local place-based work for children and families, Active Essex hub teams have representation at all four quadrant children’s partnership boards, which has enhanced relationships and knowledge when attending the county board.

Aligning the Find Your Active Small Grants fund to the Essex County Council Early Years Charter, has helped to ensure all organisations delivering to under 5’s, must be signed up to the early years charter to receive physical activity training. To build upon this, Active Essex have engaged with the Essex County Council Early Years team, to plan future CPD and an Early Years award criteria has been drafted to align with the Key Stage 1 Award. Providing recognition into setting areas that deliver positive experiences, in line with Department of Education guidelines and framework, has been prevalent to this piece of work.

When children have early positive experiences of being active, it helps put the foundations in place that will make for a much more active life into adulthood. If children love being active, know how to play, feel they are good enough to take part, understand why it's important and know how to develop their skills, they are almost twice as likely to be active. Raising positive attitudes towards being active is crucial as evidence tells us active children are happier, more resilient and trusting of others.
Dr William Bird, GP