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New programme helping families in Knowsley get fit and healthy

by Laura Johnston

Families from Kirkby have been taking part in a new healthy lifestyle initiative with some fantastic results.

The families from Westvale Primary attending the course admit they used to spend most their free family time together using screens and they often visited fast food restaurants. But all that’s changed now they’ve completed Knowsley’s new six week Enhanced Lifestyle Programme.

With an emphasis on fun the weekly sessions focus on healthy lifestyle education; incorporating healthy eating information, free fruit and vegetables from Kirby Market, and short, physical activity sessions.

“We all really enjoyed the course,” said mum of three, Kelly Tyrrell.

“All the exercises were simple, things you can do at home like obstacle courses with tins, star jumps and dancing. The sports coach always encouraged us to work harder and push ourselves further,” added mum of two Claire Curran.

Like most of the group Natalie McFadden admits: “We didn’t used to shop at the market but now we go most weeks. The fruit and veg is fresher and lasts longer. The kids love going too. Lottie will choose an apple to eat as a snack on the way home.”

Dione Gossage agreed: “Yeah, the kids really enjoying making and eating fruit salads now. They want to eat it because they picked the fruit and then made it. And they’re nibbling on it while it’s being made!”

“We’ve all downloaded the app to scan food before we buy it. My little girl emptied the cupboards at home and was scanning everything,” added Claire Ashcroft.

What is Knowsley’s Enhanced Lifestyle Programme?

The Enhanced Lifestyle programme is for the whole family and takes place in the children’s primary school. The weekly sessions are jointly delivered by the Healthy Knowsley Service and Jamie Carragher Watch us Get Fit (JCWUGF) sports coaches, funded initially by some of the Healthy Pupil Capital Fund (also known as the Sugar Tax drinks levy).

One week families will use a food scanner app to reveal the sugar content of some of their favourite food, the next could be looking at and understanding the information on food labels. Other weeks families will look at healthy breakfast swaps, home-cook recipes or the Healthy Eating Guide.

Each week includes a physical activity session delivered by JCWUGF sports coaches. Activities use little or no equipment so that families can replicate them at home, such as ten pin bowling with plastic skittles or fun circuits using cones as markers.

The families are equipped with GarminTM physical activity trackers to motivate and show progression and each week they receive individual feedback on their up to the minute activity data from JCWUGF. They also discuss goals to improve activity levels over the forthcoming week.

As part of the programme families receive free fruit and vegetables to take home at every session from Kirkby Market.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Knowsley Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said:

“As the experience of the families from Westvale Primary shows, sometimes just a little bit more information about what’s in the food we’re eating, or the level of activity we’re achieving each day, can spur us on to do more and make some simple changes to our eating habits – all of which makes for a healthier lifestyle!

“As it’s such a great way to help get the whole family fit and healthy the programme will now be offered to families in more of our schools.”

Knowsley’s Enhanced Lifestyle Programme is one of the wide range of initiatives currently underway across the borough helping residents to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.