Toddlers in West Cumbria off to an Active Start

January 19, 2021

With thanks to £160,177 funding from Sellafield, Active Cumbria, part of Cumbria County Council’s Public Health team will be working with Nurseries and other Early Years providers on a new programme to support physical development and develop physical literacy in the early years through physical activity and play.

The programme called Active Start will be rolled out across West Cumbria targeting providers where the need is greatest. The programme has been created to inspire and increase activity levels through physical activity and active play; delivered virtually in the first instance with the hope that face to face training can be progressed when restrictions ease.

Nationally only 9% of boys and 10% of girls aged between 2 - 4 years achieve the recommended physical activity guidelines for children aged Under 5, which is to aim for at least 180 minutes per day for children aged 1-5.

Physical activity (including active play) during the first five years helps children’s brains grow and develop and improves their social skills. The early years provides a window of opportunity for developing essential motor skills and establishing lifelong patterns. It's also a time of rapid growth and physical, emotional and social development. 80% of brain development takes place by the age of 3.

Active Start has been developed to help children to be healthy, to learn and be active for life. It does this by supporting practitioners, teachers and families to be active together more often, strengthening physical literacy and a child’s school readiness. 

Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life. Developing this at an early age helps with readiness to learn, helping children be better prepared for going to School.

Cllr Deborah Earl, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said:

“We’re committed to acting early to achieve better outcomes for children and this programme is doing just that. The Active Start programme will be supporting nurseries, parents and carers in some of the area’s most in need.

Active children are healthy, happy, school ready and sleep better, this is a message we really want to share through this programme”

Kelly Alty, Development Officer from Active Cumbria said:

“Active Start is a programme created to inspire and increase activity levels in the early years and support the development of the key fundamental movement skills through physical activity and active play. It helps children to be healthy, to learn and be active for life.

Alongside our support for practitioners we’ll be working closely with our colleagues in the Community Learning team to deliver Family Learning sessions that will support families to be active together more often with an enthusiasm for physical activity moving forward.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Sellafield for the funding, this is a big step forward in encouraging an active start for life and will help providers with their healthy family pledge”

Tracey West from Sellafield Ltd Social Impact Team said:

“We’re delighted to be supporting this really important programme. Developing a love of physical activity early in life is crucial. It gives children healthy habits that can last a lifetime and contributes massively to physical and mental health and readiness for school.

“Through our social impact programme, we’re committed to supporting programmes that give everyone in our community the chance to thrive. Active Start is a brilliant example of how grass roots initiatives can help children and families in a way that has longer term benefits.”