The ‘Active Families Programme’, a new partnership between SportInspired and Barking and Dagenham Council with funding from Sport England, will raise activity levels and combat the negative mental and physical health effects of Covid-19 lockdowns.

As London begins to open up and provide new opportunities for sport and play, the ‘Active Families Programme’ has launched in Barking and Dagenham to help local families get active together. Children from 4 local schools will have the opportunity to attend a team spirit and mental wellbeing workshop, multi-sport festival days and a variety of local community clubs designed to encourage families to find sports they enjoy. The programme will also train selected parents and family members to become qualified sports coaches, with the aim of creating brand new and sustainable Active Families clubs for the borough.

Research has shown that children are more likely to be active if their parents are active themselves, and that parents can be instrumental in developing healthy exercise habits early on in life.[1]

“During the pandemic, 78% of parents reported a decrease in their children's wellbeing due to the absence of sport during lockdown,” said SportInspired CEO, Richard Raynes.

He continued: “We know that parents and family members have a huge part to play in creating healthy habits, and that enjoying sport can develop the requisite skills and behaviours for a happy, fulfilled life. Our Active Families programme was born out of a real community need for fun, active experiences after a difficult year, and we can’t wait to see the results.”

Engaging over 550 children in total, the programme will bring together families from William Bellamy, Grafton, Ripple and Gascoigne Primary Schools.

On the programmes’ completion, the number of previously inactive families and children who report improved activity levels, as well as trust, wellbeing, belonging and resilience, will be recorded to determine success. Funding will continue for 20 weeks after the programme to ensure children can attend legacy sports clubs in the community, after which it is hoped clubs can continue with school funding.

Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement at Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “It’s so important that young people and their families have the opportunities to get active and find sports that they enjoy.

“Sport and exercise should be a key part of every child’s life to keep them healthy and build skills and confidence.

“I’m delighted that the programme will bring so many families together to get active in a safe environment, especially after the restrictions and challenges presented by recent lockdowns.”

[1] Activity levels in mums and children 'directly linked' - BBC News