What does the project involve?

We are training a member of staff and three parent volunteers from each school as Family Activity Champions and enable them to facilitate groups of families to commit to becoming more active together. This comprises:

  • After-school activities. This is block of six sessions of fun activities for families held directly after school one night of the week on school premises (A member of school staff would need to be present) Ten different families would do a block of sessions each term which would include a range of accessible activities such as games, skipping, treasure hunts and dance (a total of 30 families over the year).
  • Home activities. From these sessions families would also be given activities or challenges to do together at home to try and increase their regular daily activity levels. If they attend the six sessions and complete the home activities they get a bronze award.
  • Community Activities. As part of a silver award families would then be encouraged to access other opportunities and facilities in the community in the evenings and weekends (e.g. swimming, cycling, badminton, activities in parks etc.)
  • Families who could show that they had sustained increased activity over several terms would then get a gold award.

This is a two year project. During the second year we will offer continued support to help schools to embed the project and deliver successful elements of the project to a further 30 families (including enabling training and support of further Champions as required).

There will be an option for Champions to get accreditation (e.g. level 2 City and Guilds Award in facilitating groups or working with parents) for their work.

This project is aimed primarily at families from low socio-economic groups (parents whose highest qualification is GCSE, low paid workers or those on benefits).

Four out of five primary school children do not get the recommended amount of daily exercise of 60 minutes a day, and are missing out on the benefits it brings. Children from low income families are most likely to do very little physical activity.

Using the familiar and friendly school environment, PEN’s project will start by enabling families to do fun, accessible activities together after school. They will also be given challenges to take home to help them make their lifestyle more active through small changes to their daily routines. Groups of families will then be encouraged to support each other to be active and to access other opportunities and facilities together in the evenings or weekends’ e.g swimming, cycling or walking. Parent volunteers will be trained as Family Activity Champions to facilitate the activities, boost confidence, overcome barriers and generally support the families in becoming more active.

Emma Beresford, Director, said:

“The Parental Engagement Network, as a Manchester based not-for-profit social enterprise, is delighted to have this amazing opportunity. From our extensive experience we believe that families sometimes struggle to effect change on their own but that, through a support network of  other families and encouragement from school staff and parent volunteers they are more likely to make, enjoy and maintain positive life changes. This Lottery Funding will enable us to make a real impact on the activity levels of Manchester families.”