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Vote for Cumbria's Early Years Project - SmartStart

May 8, 2015

Take a few minutes & vote for Cumbria's Early Years Project - 'Smart Start'If Smart Start receives the most votes, we will see some much needed investment in Cumbria for this early years intervention programme.

Children have stopped moving and from an early age are developing a habit of inactivity. This lack of physical activity is having a considerable impact on their physical and emotional health, as we see obesity, mental health issues and poor fitness increase every year. By the time children leave primary school, 33% are overweight or obese, 450,000 have developed poor mental health and physical fitness has declined by 15%.

It’s imperative that we get to children early and ensure they have the fun and freedom to move well and move more in the early years. Learning and moving through play is key to building a lifelong love of physical activity and addressing these health issues. Sadly, for many children in Cumbria they don’t get that opportunity. 

Some of this is due to family circumstances and access to opportunity yet also the availability of local training opportunities among early years providers to assist them to engage their children in meaningful physical activity.

This means that many children across Cumbria do not have a sense of health and wellbeing and are not arriving at school ready to learn. They may have poor behaviour, a lack of confidence and independence or possess the concentration required to learn. This can then impact on their achievement in school, with some entering into a perpetual cycle of under achievement.

That’s why this project is so important and particularly for children in Cumbria!

The Youth Sport Trust has developed an early year’s programme which develops thinking, social, health, physical and creative skills in children through the medium of play. Smart Start allows children to express their enjoyment and enthusiasm for moving and engages parents and practitioners in their learning and development. Smart Start will target settings in Cumbria working with Active Cumbria and contribute to reducing health and wellbeing inequalities between low and high income families.

The Cumbria Annual Public Health Report in 2014 outlined that over 50% of children do not have the basic physical abilities they will need to start school. As a result, Cumbria has outlined a need to: • Intervene early and promoting healthy lifestyles to children; • Increase the physical, cognitive and physiological development of children under 5; • Focus more on encouraging active playtime within the home setting and greater interaction between parents and children.

Also the data alarmingly shows that: “Cumbria’s children have significantly higher levels of overweight and obese children compared to the England average at age 4 to 5 years (10.1% compared to 9.5%).”

The funding from an Aviva Community Award would be used to develop training, support and Smart Start Clubs in communities in greatest need to: • Address the health, education and social inequalities that face children and families in Cumbria; • Contribute to the physical, social and emotional development of pre-school children; • Prepare children for school and support their transition into full time education.

More specifically, each setting will receive the following:

• A set of equipment, including 10 carry home bags, which will enable children to share Smart Start Club activities and learning at home;

• A set of resources comprising: a Smart Start Club Handbook; 16 activity cards; 30 membership reward cards; 1 large wall hanger; 1 music CD to accompany some of the activities;

• Accredited training to equip practitioners with the competence and confidence to deliver Smart Start Clubs.

The funding will have an impact on:

• Increasing physical activity in a minimum of 160 children (aged 2-4);

• Increase school readiness in 8 to 10 targeted children(64-80 young people across 8 centres);

• Improve the quality of delivery in a minimum of 2 members of staff per setting through training;

• Enable 8 - 10 parents per centre to support their child’s physical development; • Develop 8 Early Years’ wellbeing champions in each children's centre.

'It’s the smiles on the faces of young children when they are having fun and being active! This project will impact on the happiness, wellbeing and physical health of those children who do not get the greatest start in life and experience health and social inequality in their daily lives.'