Essex’s new children’s campaign
Building on Find Your Active, the Move With Us campaign, supports young people in their endeavours to find an activity that’s right for them, and one that they enjoy. With a key focus on physical literacy, attitudes towards physical activity and being led by youth voice, it is Active Essex’s hope that young people across the county will be more likely to continue with a positive changed behaviour.
Taking extensive learning from the developments of Find Your Active, the team knew Move With Us needed to be insight led. Research and focus groups ensured the behaviour change campaign has been built around understanding barriers, building upon key motivators and utilising key messaging with relatable imagery.
With an identified strong association between physical literacy and activity levels it reinforced the importance of supporting all children and young people to have the best possible experience of being active.
What did the research tell us?
The pivotal finding of the research told Active Essex that the well-established Find Your Active behaviour change campaign was not relatable for children, and young people needed messaging that expressed enjoyment, making friends, being inclusive, and not needing specific skills to participate.
Young people included in the focus groups ranged from primary to secondary, and all voiced that the Find Your Active campaign was another advert telling them what to do. In order to relate with it more strongly, they wanted to feel as though it was ‘their’ voice and ensured they were a part of something.
Whether they wanted to participate on their own in the comfort of their own home, felt more encouraged by getting active with a friend, or attend a non-competitive group, it was clear the young people wanted to develop the messaging themselves to ensure it was relatable to them and their motivators.
Speaking about several additional barriers which can limit opportunities, such as lack of facilities locally, transport, safety concerns, financial constraints, time limitations and academic pressure, and feeling too tired, the children and young people helped create the Move With Us campaign.
Move With Us Principles
A children’s campaign was a desire set out by the Essex Children’s Partnership Board, following a conversation with Active Essex Chair, Dr William Bird. After identifying a worrying lack of positive attitudes towards physical activity for children, it was their hope that a campaign would help raise these attitudes and the experiences for young people across Essex. Measurable through the Sport England Active Lives survey, the 5 attitudes to physical activity, as expressed by young people are confidence, competence, knowledge, understanding and enjoyment.
The importance of harnessing youth voice and ensuring children and young people’s voices are heard, is one of the key drivers of the campaign. Everyone’s relationship with physical activity is personal and can change overtime depending on personal circumstances. The ABCD approach has taught Essex of the importance of working with communities, rather than doing to them, and this is a similar approach taken by Move With Us.
Another key difference between the audiences of Find Your Active and Move With Us has been the desire to have influencers and role models included in the campaign messaging. Children and young people voiced that it helped them aspire to be like that individual and was a motivator for participating.
Active Essex have been lucky to have Courtney Tulloch, GBR Gymnast from South Essex Gymnastic Club as a fundamental advocate for the campaign. Not only has he helped reach new audiences, but he has really helped to enthuse schools and encouraged young people to get excited about physical activity. As well as being an ambassador, Courtney heads up the ‘Count With Courtney Challenges’, which have been developed in line with Essex Year of Numbers. These challenges encourage schools to marry learning numbers and activity together and have been thoroughly enjoyed by over 100 school classes.
Social media has been showcasing some great case studies, videos and stories of young people, as well as good practice from locally trusted organisations. The Find Your Active activity finder hosts a number of physical activity opportunities for young people to engage with across the county and has been a key call to action on posts.
This year Active Essex set up a TikTok account to utilise for Move With Us content, which will be further developed in 2024. This will include Mascot dances to get involved with, video content from ambassadors and paid ads to engage with new audiences.
A successful print campaign was created in early 2024 across 25 bus routes in Essex, which included bus rears and internal liners, with specific targeting of the routes taking place across Essex Local Delivery Pilot and Levelling Up areas.
To ensure Move With Us continues to be insight led, and develop the campaign using youth voice, an ambassador programme has been created for young people to share their thoughts about developing Move With Us and changing the Essex ecosystems outlook towards the approach to physical activity for young people.
Building upon this, a Move With Us Board has also been established, made up of a selection of ambassadors, who in 2024 will meet 4 times to discuss the changes they wish to implement.
Embedding across the system
As with Find Your Active, Active Essex have worked hard to embed the campaign across the system, although strengthening this next year will be a priority. Move With Us has been on 8 agendas since its launch in September which is helping to develop the next phase of the campaign. Details have been shared with Essex Public Health team who are keen to build upon the foundations, and the Active Essex Children and Young People team met with Writtle University College to be involved in their physical literacy course. This is the only course in the UK like it and will be fundamental in helping change the way the Essex system approaches physical activity for young people.
For individuals, organisations, clubs and schools, an Advocate role has been set up for those that wish to be active supporters of the campaign and work to achieve its intentions. As part of this, they can make a pledge to state how they wish to be involved and what changes they will implement. As a reward for being actively involved in the campaign, advocates receive new data and research first, and gain access to a portal whereby they can submit requests to have Move With Us talks and exercises at events or meetings, and download a whole host of campaign resources to utilise.
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.
There is a widening challenge of turning physical literacy into real life
Role of Active Essex
Not leading the campaign on behalf of the children’s partnership board
Encouraging schools to adopt the campaign and learn from the research
An important development of the campaign going forward will be to embed Move With Us across the whole children and young people work of Active Essex, and use this to help influence the system further. Active Essex have already established a need to create relevant resources for Essex ActivAte audiences and build upon the CPD offer for teachers and schools.
Active Essex are hopeful that 2024-2025 will allow a children and young people specific funding pot, which can be vetted by the Move With Us board, to ensure the opportunities available across the county are those which young people wish to participate in.
Work still needs to be undertaken on the development of the Advocate role and how they can be more active in the campaign, including promoting Move With Us talks and events throughout the year to keep spreading the campaigns intentions, principles and research to truly create sustainable behaviour change.