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Go Well Blog

Remembering your ‘Why’, reconnecting with you and looking to the future.

Guest Blog

We have asked our friend and colleague Hannah Bell to write a guest blog aimed at supporting school staff who are perhaps struggling with the pressures of the pandemic.  We hope you find it helpful.  

I started to write this as I felt it important to reach out to those of you who are feeling scrutinized, de-valued and maybe even considering a career change given the current onslaught of changing expectations and guidance recently.  It would not surprise me to know that some of you are questioning your “why?”

I want you to know that your role and the part you are playing is invaluable; priceless – what a privilege! I don’t need to remind you that every conversation, every lesson, every word that you speak creates memories. Some will be deleted but the ones with heartfelt emotions will be cemented forever; even more so during what is happening right now. Emotions are high and you are playing an instrumental role as a truly remarkable influence in the minds of every single one of the children and young people you spend time with and giving them the skills to navigate their way through such a confusing and difficult world.

The power of your words and your behaviour are continuing to transform hearts and minds on a daily basis, whether in person or virtually. How people make us feel is so important and something that we often remember for many years to come. YOU are doing an amazing job.

This huge responsibility that you carry every day, without a seconds thought, may be taking its toll. This is why it is essential that you prioritise looking after yourself and your own mental wellbeing, as what you do matters and you need to be able to do it and stay well, so you can enjoy your vocation. Be kind to yourself.

I have many friends, clients and family members who are educators and recognise how this last year has been such a difficult time for them – so many transformational individuals, who are weary, exhausted and giving so much when in reality they do not have much left in the way of emotional energy – so many burnt out and counting down to half-term hoping for an opportunity to recover.

Educators and when I write this, I mean anyone who works within education, regardless of role or title, have a significant, lifelong impact on all of their students. The biggest impact you have, is so powerful and is just as important as teaching academic skills; that is the fostering of student self-esteem.  Reinforcing self-esteem is associated with an increased self-awareness, motivation and enthusiasm to learn and succeed. So, please, NEVER underestimate the power of what you do on a daily basis!

If one sentence at story time forty four years ago can stay with me for life, then what you are doing right now can inspire someone beyond all comprehension.

A Personal Reflection

I thought it was timely to share a personal story, one close to my heart, to lift spirits and offer an opportunity to step out of the chaos and space to think.

One of my earliest memories of first school, Whiston Worrygoose Junior and Infants, besides the initial wrench from being left for my first day, was my time with the most incredible teacher, Mrs Bissell .  She gave us the space to be creative. She would have names for us that rhymed, I was Hannah Banner and loved it. Did I appreciate her at the time? I am unable to remember. Could it be that I mistakenly believed that this is how all my teachers were going to be?

What I do remember are key anecdotes, feelings of self- belief, curiosity and short bursts of overwhelming self-confidence; anything was possible while in her class.

It was around 1976; I was crouched on the corduroy carpet in the book corner, waiting for the most favourite part of my school day, story time. Mrs Bissell was one of the younger teachers, she dressed fashionably and I loved her shoe collection. She would sit and read to us; her right leg crossed over her left, circling her foot, american tan tights and patented platform shoes were mesmerizing. A behaviour which I would hold dear, and practice whenever I played at schools. I think I may still do it if I am reading during any of my workshops.

I can distinctly recall this particular day as Mrs Bissell was reading a book where she knew of the Author, she placed the book on her knee and looked at each and every one of us. ” Any one of you here has the ability to write a book, everyone has a story and if it’s possible in the world then it is possible for you”. I can recall the excitement and belief in my tummy, I was always the smallest in class and at this moment in time I felt like the tallest. I loved writing and I can even recall as young as six that this was something that I could do, unlike maths for example, or PE, where I quickly adapted to being last in the race.

There were other life lessons throughout my time with Mrs Bissell, all of which were underpinned by self-belief, a fire in my belly, a desire to be recognised by her and an empowering sense that I could achieve whatever I put my mind to.

Having met a string of teachers throughout my schooling that undermined my confidence or labelled me as incapable, my time with Mrs Bissell is all the fonder to look back at. I did re-discover this love of learning, many years later and I realised that I was bright, studying extensively and in love with how I could use this to help others. I just needed a why, a why to learn something bigger than me.

Only a few months ago while completing my first published book, my Publisher rang to ask if we were ready to go to print, was I happy? should she press send? It was strange that I thought straight away of Mrs Bissell – I had done it, I had actually written my own book! I wondered what she would think if she knew that Hannah Banner had eventually believed in herself and she had achieved more than she thought possible.

I felt strangely overwhelmed. Could it be the exhaustion of proofreading, a dead line or sheer relief that my book was finally finished? No it was something much more than that, a sense of pride and achievement that I had done it, I had done exactly what my six-year-old self had set out to do. It wasn’t my story but it was a book, which would help children and young people overcome barriers, which would enable them to be the best version of themselves. I know this is a cliché and it’s true, there is no better way of describing it.

Having moved away from my hometown at nineteen to work within specialist education I had no idea if Mrs Bissell was still around. I attempted to work out how old she would be now, but at six everyone seems ancient don’t they?

The anticipation for my books physical arrival was tense, I dreamed of typing errors and people laughing at my work, my teenage self-wanting to blend once more.

I witness the negative power and destruction of social media in the people I support, it’s easy when you are vulnerable to compare your worst day with someone else’s fake reality. However for a moment in time I felt immense gratitude for one particular platform, Facebook. A humorous post about socialising and then having to go to work the next day, I am unable to remember who had posted it, it must have been a contact of an old school friend. One comment jumped out, my stomach lurched, Anji Bissell had commented. I quickly messaged asking ” Mrs Bissell is this you?”

The following morning I rushed downstairs to discover a reply ” Hannah Banner it certainly is”. I was overwhelmed with joy and we messaged for most of the day, reminiscing and making sure that Mrs Bissell knew exactly how my time with her had shaped my life. She had remained local and was only living a mile away from my parents.  Therein lies another message, do not ever take for granted that you will have an opportunity to do this. If someone has influenced you and given you a gift of words, time or their wisdom, then tell them now; do not wait as that day may never come. They need to know.

Standing on her doorstep with a copy of my book and an armful of flowers on Christmas Day this year was the best gift I could ever have ever had. The pride I felt delivering a dedicated copy was something else, it felt like I was closing a circle, tying up loose ends and I loved recounting the stories that had stayed with me throughout my life.

Mrs Bissell’s voice took me back to the classroom, which I did not expect and she still looked the same, having the same charisma and presence. It was an emotional reunion. She modestly brushed off my sentiments, that she was just doing her job. I think this is what makes her so special, she affected so many children and changed their lives, just by being herself. I will not be alone or unique, in my memories; I think that there are hundreds of people, who have their own Mrs Bissell story,

We stay in touch and write or message often, she has reviewed my book, which I have to admit was slightly nerve wracking and we have plans to lunch when it’s safe to do so. It was important to me that she liked The Brainy Bunch; I wanted her feedback because it still mattered to me. When she wrote saying that she could hear my voice and feel my personality in every page I was delighted. This was not just feedback from a highly experienced educator, this was someone who had inspired me all those years ago to dream big and work at it.

In examining my own memories I ask you to do the same, I have worked with thousands of teachers who often question their impact, yet still deliver an amazing education for those they teach. What you do matters. You do have a lifelong impact on all of your students, this involves not just academic subjects but as importantly, the fostering of self-esteem, self-awareness and turning what feels impossible into
inevitable. How powerful is that?

Hannah’s Bio

Author – Speaker – Facilitator – Therapist

www.hannahbellclarity.com

Hannah’s early career started off in education and many years later she has come full circle.  Throughout her second career as a police officer, she developed a curiosity for the brain and a love of learning.  She achieved a BA (Hons) in Education at Leeds University and a Certificate in Education from Sunderland University. Since then she has continued to study, and she holds advanced qualifications in Neurolinguistic Programming; Hypnotherapy; and Applied Neuroscience as well as being a Practitioner in Brain and Behaviour Change.

Hannah has a natural ability to make sense of the science and transform it into straightforward, easy to understand tools and techniques.  Insights which often create light bulb moments for many of her delegates, learning which is easily shared with others. Hannah’s delivery style is warm and humorous as she believes learning needs to be enjoyable to be memorable Combining her fascination with neuroscience and her love of learning, Hannah has written and created ‘The Brainy Bunch’, a unique concept and creative means of being able to support children and young people to reach their full potential.

The Brainy Bunch – a quirky family of characters who represent chemicals and parts of the brain. Being able to provide children with helpful tools and techniques like this from an early age will undoubtedly lead to them developing into confident, self-aware and resilient adults.

Hannah has collaborated with Go Well to create the Team Up programme which incorporates the Brainy Bunch into an education programme to support children and young people to develop tools and techniques to stay well and thrive.

Hannah’s company, Hannah Bell Clarity, delivers workshops internationally to help organisations understand how to use their brain effectively to improve employee wellbeing and to create a culture of self-care.

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5 top tips for integrating physical activity into a home learning day

The Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation is that children should take part in an average of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. In normal circumstances a lot of this may be provided by opportunities within a normal school day, for example walking to and from school, playtimes, PE lessons and after school clubs. With children at home and parents supporting their learning, how can physical activity be integrated into the new ‘school day’?

Here are a few tips:

1. Start the day with some activity

Get the day off to a good start with some physical activity! Perhaps make it part of your morning routine. Being active releases lovely feel good chemicals that boost mood and can help to start your day in a positive mindset. Activities you could do include:

  • A workout – you could try our FFL Workout of the Week
  • A dance – to your favourite music or using a resource like Just Dance
  • A ‘follow me’ style video like Joe Wicks or Jumpstart Jonny

Our advice is to keep things varied and vibrant so perhaps do a different activity each morning. Why not join in with your children and boost your brain chemicals too?

2. Plan an outside physical activity into your day

Getting outside in the sunlight is so important for general well-being. Outdoor play would be normal at lunchtime within the school day. Perhaps plan an activity in to the middle of the day to break the day up a bit, have a change of scene and recharge your batteries. Activities you could do include:

  • Going out for a walk
  • Going for a jog/run
  • Going on a bike ride/scooter Ride

3. Have short brain breaks throughout the day

Being active releases chemicals in the brain that increase concentration and alertness! So whenever you feel a dip in your child’s motivation or concentration or they are finding a task particularly difficult, try a quick active brain break. Then return to the work and notice the difference! Visit Active 30 Durham Hub for some ideas for brain breaks.

4. Record and reward time spent being active

It can be motivating to record activity, see progress being made and be rewarded along the way. Perhaps create a reward chart where children can colour in the number of minutes they are active within the day. You can create goals and targets depending on your child’s starting point when it comes to activity. Some examples could be:

Completing 60 minutes on X number of days in the week.
Completing X number of minutes on a certain day or number of days
Completing 60 minutes for a streak of X days

What rewards can you give your children for completing their goal? Perhaps your child can think of some too!

To be effective for health benefits and to truly meet the CMO guidelines the activity levels should be moderate to vigorous. Our blog about what this is and how to measure it may be helpful.

5. Integrate movement with learning

If you can integrate movement with learning then you can kill two birds with one stone! We are slightly biased but we would argue that this can be more fun and engaging for some children. Active learning is something that is now very common in schools. Some ideas you could try:

  • Relay style games to collect answers or objects to then sort.
  • Treasure Hunts with questions or puzzles as clues or number/shape hunts in the house or outside.
  • Using your body to give answers e.g. squat for true, lunge for false, create letters or shapes with your body.
  • Target games with answers to hit or knock off or throwing a specific number to a target.

 

We hope you find these top tips helpful.  We know juggling everything is challenging right now and we feel physical activity can be especially helpful to relieve stress, improve concentration and improve mood.  It can be incorporated little and often into your day or in bigger chunks; whatever suits you best. I n Lockdown 1 children’s physical activity levels dropped significantly and we would like to support parents and schools to keep children moving in Lockdown 3.  We have created some free to access resources that may be helpful:

Physical activity and wellness activties.

A Weekly challenge fusing physical activity and creativity.

Workout of the Week

Mental Wellbeing Activities

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Go Well Blog

The difference between physical activity and Physical Education and balancing them both in Lockdown 3.

When children are at school they take part in both Physical Education (recommended 2 hours per week) AND physical activity (recommended 30 minutes a day in school).  

There are distinct differences between the two:

Physical Activity is  ‘…all bodily movement that uses energy’ (AfPE)

Physical Education…’ takes place in a school curriculum…and involves learning to move and moving to learn’ (AfPE)

Benefits of each

 Both types of movement provide many benefits for young people:

Benefits of Physical Activity

Benefits of Physical Education

1. Improve physical health and fitness

 

2. Improve mental health and well being

 

3. Improve cognitive function

 

4. Reduce the risk of some diseases

 

5. Social interaction with friends and family members

 

6. Ease of access – scope for all to be involved as there will be no financial cost, equipment not always necessary.

 

 

 

 

1. Points 1-5 of Physical Activity benefits

 

2. Improved physical literacy

 

3. The knowledge and understanding of how to lead a healthy lifestyle

 

4. Developing wider skills – eg: leadership, communication skills, resilience,  teamwork, confidence and social skills

 

5. Acquiring the technique to perform individual transferable physical skills; being given the chance to develop them and put them into practise in a variety of environments

 

6.Evaluating skills; recognising what is good and what requires improvement and how to go about this

 

7. Breadth of opportunity – being able to unlock possible potential through a rich menu of high quality experiences

 

8. Personal targets and challenges and how to set these, to help individuals to achieve and make progress

 

 

Examples of Physical Activities

Examples of Physical Education Activities

Going for a walk, jog or run

Going on a bike ride

Doing the housework

Doing some DIY

Gardening

Taking part in a fitness class

Recreational sport

A wide variety of sports and activities – Games, Swimming, Gymnastics, Dance, Outdoor Education

Adapted games and activities that have a key objective

Learning rules and regulations

Being a sports leader

Refereeing, umpiring and officiating

Potential to gain qualifications not only in PE but also in leadership and officiating

 

 

There is some clear overlap between the two.

When children take part in Physical Education they are likely to also be physically active.  However, when children take part in physical activity, there may not be strong elements of learning taking place, that would equate to that within a Physical Education session.  Learning is the key element of Physical Education.

Many children and parents are currently grappling with the demands of ‘home learning’.  Providing physical activity and Physical Education opportunities within this can be helpful not just for physical health and physical literacy but also for looking after mental health and creating a readiness to complete academic work set.

Our suggestion while learning at home, is to find the balance that suits you best, but to try to include both Physical Education and physical activity opportunities.  A good aim would be to meet the Chief Medical Officers guidelines of 60 minutes of activity a day and split that between physical activity and Physical Education.  You could do this in a variety of ways, for example:

  • 20 mins Physical education per day, 40 mins physical activity per day

  • 2 days Physical Education focus, 3 days physical activity focus

There are a range of resources available to support parents to encourage their children to be active at home.  A good selection of these can be found on the Active 30 Durham Hub (open to all – link below).

Top tips for delivering Physical Education based activities at home
  1. Use a Physical Education based resource

  2. Give demonstrations to your child (or ask other siblings to) to show good technique

  3. Ask your children questions during the activity such as “How does it feel? How can you improve your technique? When would you use this?”

  4. Have lots of fun interacting with your child and watching them achieve and learn new things!

  5. Practise to improve and be proud of all achievements!

 Good luck!

This blog was a collaboration between multiple members of the Go Well team.  For more information email info@go-well.org.

Further links that may be helpful

AfPE Importance of Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity Resources

Active 30 Durham Hub

Other blogs that may be useful

5 ideas for schools to support physical activity at home

Why moderate to vigorous intensity exercise is important for children and how to measure it

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Go Well Blog

Making the most of Fitness in Education – How to design Fitness sessions to incorporate Personal Development.

We have seen a significant boom in the inclusion of fitness based sessions in Primary Schools following the popularity of ‘PE’ with Joe in lockdown and the concerns over decreasing fitness levels of children that became evident.

I say PE in inverted commas as I think it is fair to say that, on behalf of PE practitioners in my team that Joe Wicks MBE provided a fitness session as opposed to a physical education lesson.  

Children following the instructor on the screen like for like, for me, has its limitations.  Yes, children are moving but:

  • How do we ensure children are performing the correct technique?
  • How do the children know if they are working at the right intensity levels?
  • How do we keep them engaged and interested in the long term?
  • What are they learning?

In an education setting, I feel like we can achieve so much more.  We are missing a trick in what more a fitness session can bring to our children.

How to design Fitness sessions to incorporate Personal Development

I want to write today about how we can make the best use of a fitness session, in an education setting, whether that be within a PE lesson or as part of Active 30 provision, to bring about personal development.  

We know schools have very little time in their day to fit in everything they have to and want to do.  With a well-planned and prepared fitness programme we can make a significant impact not only on physical health, mental health but on character building too – all at the same time.

Intent is a word used a lot now in education; if our intent is to incorporate character building to our session then how we design the session is key.  

Here are a few tips on what you can do to develop the following skills/values through fitness sessions:

Resilience/Determination

Fitness itself should be a tough exercise to take part in.  The aim is to get out of breath and sweaty, to be in the moderate to vigorous intensity zone and stay there.  Children can find this difficult (as can adults!).  Quite often we see children giving up when it gets a little tough.  So how we can encourage them to keep going?  We encourage two key things in this area:

Reward effort

For us, one of the key aims of a fitness session is to be working in the right intensity zone.  Whether that takes me 100 reps or 10 it really doesn’t matter.  Reward effort, reward the children working at the right intensity levels and doing their best.  You can access our Rate of Perceived Exertion to help with this.

Set personal goals

We do not advocate making all workouts competitive at a primary age, but seeing progress can motivate a young person to keep going and be determined.  Perhaps pick a few workouts or challenges to use as a measure of fitness, complete them in Week 1 and repeat them in Week 6 with the aim of achieving their personal best.

Teamwork/Communication

We can design workouts where teamwork and communication are required to be successful.  See below a work together workout from our Fit for Life programme.  Here the children have to work in a pair to complete the workout; they will have to communicate with each other and work together to complete it.  A personal favourite is adding ‘synced’ movements, where all team members have to complete a movement at the same time, such as a burpee.  To do this successfully they have to talk to each other, perhaps even communicate non verbal when they are out of breath to stay in sync!

Problem Solving/Strategising

We can design team workouts where children have to work together to create a strategy of how best to complete the workout.  Let the children discuss and decide how to split up the reps, give them an aim as this may change their strategy e.g. the aim is for everyone to be working at moderate to vigorous intensity, the aim is to complete the challenge in the fastest time, the aim is to get as many reps as possible, the aim is to perform the movements with the highest quality.  

In an individual workout we can provide a rep scheme that involves some decision making and strategy forming.  E.g.

Complete in any order:

  • 50 squats
  • 50 press ups
  • 50 lunges
  • 50 torso twists

Do you work through doing 50, 50, 50, 50?  Or do you 10 of each until it’s complete? 5 of each? Pair the movements? Easiest first? There are so many options to assess and decisions to make!  It will make for a fascinating discussion back in the classroom.

Also, you can allow multiple attempts at the same workout to allow different strategies to be tested.

Empathy/Compassion

There should be no one in the class finding the fitness session easy.  If they are, you aren’t challenging them enough or they aren’t challenging themselves enough.  We are all going to find ourselves struggling at some point in a fitness session, whether we can’t crack a move or we are totally out of breath and don’t think we can do another rep.  If we find ourselves in this position in an individual workout we will need some encouragement from our peers.  If we find ourselves in this position in a group workout we will need the support of our peers and they’ll know how we’re feeling at some point!  But it can stretch a little wider than that, we now all know how it can feel to struggle at something and we can empathise with others when they struggle too, in any area of life.

For all of the above, they won’t just happen with good design.  Fitness doesn’t teach personal development – we do.  

Fitness is one of the mediums/activities that we can use to do it.  How we design our sessions, what questions we ask, what discussions we prompt before, during and after a session helps children to learn and develop these key life skills/values.

If you haven’t got time to plan and prepare a fitness programme like this for your class or school but are interested in the concept, do get in touch – we can help.

For more information contact: sarahprice@go-well.org

Further information:

Blog – Why moderate to vigorous intensity exercise is important to children and how to measure it.
www.fitforlifeschools.org.uk
 
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The benefits of having PE, School Sport and Physical Activity at the HEART of our school curriculums and in the hearts of our children.

Ever wondered why some of us are so passionate about the power of a subject like PE?  Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity can be key in unlocking potential, not just for the elite athletes and top performers, but for every child.  School PE lessons and the school sport offer are no longer about aiming to develop an exceptional performer; instead they encompass so much more!  Let’s see what PE, School Sport and Physical Activity can do for our future generations….

H

Healthy habits 

PE, Physical Activity and sport all embed healthy habits, not just in terms of taking more exercise – we all know that we need to move more, to keep our joints healthy, to maintain a healthy weight etc; the recent Active 30 campaign is helping to reinforce this message in Primary schools; but they also all have a huge impact on other areas of our life too.  Habits such as deploying strategies to cope with stress and anxiety, co-operating with others, building meaningful relationships with others, learning to win and lose, knowing how to cope with setbacks but also how to use these as a catalyst for ambition, hard work, striving for success, acknowledging that instant gratification is often short-lived happiness and not always as rewarding as knowing you have worked hard for something. These things help to develop strong, resilient and well-rounded personalities. Isn’t that the kind of adult we want our children to grow into? 

E

Emotions

Exercise is a great way to clear your mind, to gain some perspective, to release your frustrations; it allows us to self regulate, to refocus and gain some clarity, setting us up for whatever challenges lay ahead. Understanding our emotions and finding ways to recognise them, embrace them and choose to express them appropriately is something that can be and should be taught.  Movement is integral to human expression.

Attainment

Following vigorous exercise your brain is more open to learning, meaning that if children were to do a quick 10 minute blast of exercise before their English or maths lesson their brain would be more open to being challenged, would potentially retain more information and problem solve more effectively. Shouldn’t we be in the business of maximising learning potential? 

Attention span

PE and sport require us to sharpen our attention, to look for detail, to make quick thinking decisions, respond to stimuli. These skills lead to actively involved, confident, connected, lifelong learners. Analysis and decision making allows us to see things from different points of view, to identify key influences and to select appropriate responses, empowering our decision making in future.

R

Risks

PE and competitive sport can very easily help children to understand sequencing of time, the importance of quick reactions, of how decisions made in an instant, can influence the outcome of a whole game, potentially having huge ramifications on the bigger picture.  Taking risks, being daring are key life skills that allow us to have adventures, to aim high, to challenge ourselves, to have self belief, to be able to overcome challenges, to work/sit outside of our comfort zone every now and then and be ok with that. Resilience is a big word – self regulation, being able to react to situations in a measured and calm manner requires a certain equilibrium. Sport teaches children to win and to lose, to support and celebrate the success of others but it also has the opportunity to develop ambition, drive, a try and try again attitude, an acceptance of limitations but an adaptability to goal set and to achieve.

Tiredness

We know that sleep is a great healer and medicine.  Whilst the National Sleep Foundation gives us recommendations about how much sleep we need according to age, they also recognise that this will vary according to how active we are and suggest that the more active you are the more sleep you may need. We know that people are leading far more sedentary working lives and that they are mentally exhausted, but switching minds off isn’t always easy. I refer you back to all of the things previously raised – physical activity has the tendency to tire you out, allowing you to clear your mind and therefore settle your thoughts, which in turn can lead to more restful sleep.

 

How powerful is all of that?  I could go on and on and on……….

Plato said “lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise saves it and preserves it”.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it was at the HEART of our school curriculums and in the hearts of our children? 

Further reading: 

5 Reasons Why Physical Education Should Be An Important Part Of Your Curriculum – 360 Hoops (play360hoops.com)

Why study physical education? / Rationale / Health and physical education / Home – Senior Secondary (tki.org.nz)

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? – Sleep Foundation

We hope you found this blog helpful.  For more information contact sarahwalmsley@go-well.org.

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Go Well Blog

How to create a Staff Strava Challenge

We recently won an Innovation Award at the National School Games Summit for a Strava Challenge we set up with Durham & Chester-le-Street SSP in Lockdown 1.  The challenge was successful in “rising to the challenge and doing things differently to solve problems as well as developing creative ways to overcome barriers.”   The challenge helped school staff to stay active, connected and support their mental health.  We therefore thought that it might be helpful to show you how to set up a Strava Group Challenge for your school school staff or organisation.

STEP ONE

Create a CLUB on the Strava App – https://www.strava.com/clubs/new

Ensure it is a running club which means you can record distances from people both running and walking (but not cycling).  You can add logos and descriptions and then invite staff/colleagues to join. As the designated “admin” for the group you can see who wants to join and then accept or deny them entry into the club.

The way the club works is that from 1 minute past midnight on a Sunday night you are off – every time a member of your team/club does an activity it records it and adds it to your weekly total – as a whole and also as an individual. You can then see who is doing the longest runs, the most uphill climbs, the greatest time out exercising.  It is displayed in a league table.

STEP TWO

Decide a cut off time for taking daily totals – we suggest 9pm.  Any miles/kilometres after that time can be rolled over to the next day. You could make a google map of how far you have travelled that day and a Canva template to compare the team totals if you are challenging another group. Our first challenge was to travel from John O’Groats to Land’s End (a mere 874 miles) and as we progressed quickly during the week (there were over 340 participants split very evenly between the two clubs – we decided to turn around and head back up North to double the distance!).

STEP THREE

Keep your team members motivated by creating a POST in Strava in order to let them know how they are doing at various points during the week.  This can include photos as well as text. Perhaps you have passed a particularly interesting landmark or famous city?

TOP TIPS FOR MOTIVATION

  • Pick an achievable distance to cover in a week depending on how many team members you have – most people should be able to do 3 or 4 miles per day.

  • Pick an iconic route – Hadrian’s Wall, The Pennine Way, Route 66 – or travel between two cities (we went from Paris to Milan one week!)

  • Take a break from travelling for distance and travel for ART! This will bring out the artistic flair of staff as they try to design their walking/running routes in order to make a pretty pattern or a picture. You will see lots of pans, worms and boxes but also stick people, horses, snails and flowers! Find someone from another company to be the judge.

  • Set up a Whatsapp group to encourage team chat and motivation.

  • Have a theme – take a photo of an animal, some scenery, famous landmarks, something green.

  • Create smaller teams and then have weekly challenges between them – who can climb the most metres?  Who can visit the most places starting with the letter S?

  • Most importantly have FUN, keep HEALTHY and ACTIVE and ENJOY!

We hope you found this blog helpful.  For more information contact pauldonaghy@go-well.org.

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5 ideas for schools to support children to be active at home

We are currently in National Lockdown 2.0; engaging children in regular physical activity is becoming more and more challenging. Some reasons for this may include:

  • Space and time in school is limited with staggered lunchtimes and deteriorating weather

  • Community sport and recreation opportunities are cancelled

  • After school clubs are limited to bubbles

  • The dark nights are setting in

  • We are all spending the majority of our time at home

While schools continue to aim to provide 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in school time, which in itself is tricky, the additional 30 minutes out of school is providing a significant challenge.

We know that schools want to help their parents and communities to support children to be active outside of school.  We know being physically active is super important for physical health and mental health and we know the pandemic is negatively affecting the health and well-being of our children.  So what can we do?  

Here are a few ideas…

1. Virtual After School Clubs

Why not?  We all have taken big steps into the digital world and live virtual delivery has been successful in many settings.  Joe Wicks got us started in Lockdown 1.0 but we have equally seen local sports club set up ‘zoom’ type sessions to continue engagement in their activities.  Schools are becoming more comfortable with home learning and digital platforms; this could really be an option to expand the current, potentially limited, after school club provision.

It could be school staff delivering or you could engage with an external provider.  The Youth Sport Trust have also just announced that they will be providing a livestream virtual after school club at 5pm each night.

‘After School Sport Club’ will run for five weeks until December 18 and children and young people can take part live by visiting the YST’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/YouthSportTrust.

2. A Challenge or Competition

We have found that themes or challenges/competitions are a great way of engaging people young and old in physical activity.  In our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness challenge’ I walked over twice as many steps as I would in an average week.  A half termly, weekly or daily challenge may just spark that engagement.  Here are some quick ideas:

  • A steps challenge similar to our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness’.  Give a step target to a child as an individual, create small teams, or travel collectively somewhere as a class or bubble!

  • Sport themed half-terms with a different activity each week e.g. Athletics, Football.  Each child could have a go at the activity on a Monday and create a score, with the aim being to beat that score on Friday.  Start it at school, practice it at home!

  • Contribute to a total – did you hear about the girl who accumulated over 1 million “keepy upy’s” over Lockdown 1.0?  You could copy that with your class/school/bubble or come up with your own idea of a skill to use.  Throw and catch off a wall, squats, minutes of dancing…anything you or the children can think of!

3. Promote Resources Available to Parents

Why re-invent the wheel?  There are numerous resources out there now that can support children to be active at home.  A simple newsletter or notification to parents of what is available may go a long way.  Although, perhaps using these as a theme or challenge would enhance engagement further.  Here are some useful links:

Youth Sport Trust Free Downloadable Resources: https://www.youthsporttrust.org/free-resources
Change for Life Activities for Children:  https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities
Active 30 Durham Home Resource Catalogue: https://www.countydurhamsport.com/young-people/active-30/home/

4. Promote Active Travel

A 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride to school and 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride home would clock up a child’s 30 minutes of activity needed outside of school time.  Can you incentivise or reward Active Travel to school?

5. Activity Tracking

Setting goals and activity tracking can support children (and adults) to maintain engagement in physical activity.  A useful aim is to reach the CMO guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.  Individual goals would be preferred, if time allows, as children will all begin from a different starting point.

3 Top Tips:

Involve the children in the planning/delivery/promotion

We know teachers are really stretched at the moment.  This could be a project for a group of sports leaders.

Keep it varied and vibrant

To maintain the engagement, keep mixing it up!  Use multiple ideas above in a longer plan/programme.

Reward engagement

Celebrate success of children being active outside of school to maintain the motivation of those engaged but also to encourage those less engaged to join in

 

We hope you found this blog helpful, if you have then you may find these previous blogs useful too:

6 ways to integrate Physical Activity

Why moderate to vigorous activity is important for children and how to measure it

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Go Well Blog

10 ways to make your virtual meetings more active!

Are you sitting in lots of virtual meetings throughout the day?  We would like to help you to make virtual meetings more active!

We advocate that everyone should integrate physical activity into their daily schedule to benefit their physical and mental health.  

However, did you know that it also boosts your brain power?  

Physical activity boosts the production of a chemical in your brain called BDNF which creates new brain cells and strengthens neural pathways.  It also boosts the production of Norepinephrine, which improves your concentration and alertness.

Hands up who can find it difficult to maintain full concentration during online learning or meetings?  

If you are leading online meetings, it may be helpful to integrate activity in to your delivery/time to maintain or to boost engagement.

Here are a few ideas for integrating activity into your online meetings:

1. Active Quiz/Poll

Link answers to body shapes or movements.  Stand up for Yes, Squat down for No.  Lean left for agree, lean right for disagree.

2. Active Break – Rock, Paper, Scissors!

An active twist on Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Use movements for Rock, Paper and Scissors.  Play in pairs, keep your score to see who wins.  You can also give other roles out like a referee and a score keeper. This works great in breakout rooms.  You can make it into a competition if you like or just play for fun!

Add some twists!:

1. Points for passion – have a judge who can give extra points for how passionate people are when playing.

2. Make it more active by replacing Rock, Paper and Scissors with other more challenging movements e.g Squat, Lunge, One foot balance.

3. Full screen with everyone creating a shape at the same time.  The shape with the most people performing that shape wins that round.

3. Active Break – I went to….

Split your delegates into breakout rooms of groups of 4-6.  The task is to create the longest sequence of movements in the style of the game ‘I went to the supermarket and I bought….’  e.g. Add a movement on each time you move to the next player.  Change the intro to anything you like ‘I went to PE and we did…..’, ‘I went to the gym and we did…..’.  You can work through the alphabet or just freestlyle!

4. Active Break – Dance

Create a dance – Split your delegates into breakout rooms of groups of 4-6.  Ask each room to create a dance to a certain section of a song (all the same song and section).  Bring the groups back together and perform the dance either one group at a time, or all together.

5. Active Break –  1-2-3 

Split your group into breakout rooms in pairs and complete the exercise in the video below.

6. Active Break – Competition

How many times can you catch and throw an object within a minute?  One hand to the other? One hand only?  Off your wall?  Compete against each other or repeat the task and try and beat your own score.

7. Active Break – Workout

Complete a 2, 5 or 10 minute workout together.  You can use this one if you like:

8. Active thinking time

Walk and reflect – set a thinking task but ask participants to go for a 10 minute walk, ideally outside, as they consider the question or questions.

9. Active task – Scavenger hunt

Collect objects from your house/office space that represent a certain thing or answer a question.

10. Active Break –  Mexican Wave!

Team challenge.  Can you create a Mexican wave on your screen in a certain order?

Add some twists:

1. Pick a person and an order (horizontal wave/vertical wave).  The wave has to go in that order on that persons screen but they cannot talk during the challenge and the others cannot ask them questions.  They can only make waves and attempt to create the wave in the right order.  The person can nod, shake their head or do a wave (they are in the screen after all and will need to take their turn in the Mexican wave).   Once an effort to make the wave fails the team needs to start again!

2.  Do a wave and then point (with one hand or two), whoever you point to has to do a wave and so on.

Some of these tasks can be linked to a topic/be part of the content of the meeting and some can just be to have some fun and move!  A quick 5 minute activity of simply moving, having fun and connecting with other people will help to boost brain chemicals in individuals and lift the atmosphere in virtual meetings.  The next ‘serious’ task is then likely to be more productive with delegates more alert and ready to engage.

These are just a few suggestions and as we have been implementing them in our meetings and workshops we have come up with new ideas, which I’m sure you will too!  We would love you to share any new ideas or twists on the above in the comments!

We hope you have found this blog helpful, for more information contact: sarahprice@go-well.org.

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Go Well Blog

6 ways to integrate physical activity into your school day

There are many benefits to being physically active, regardless of our age. The positive effects on the body are numerous – strengthening our heart and lungs, lowering blood cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure, developing stronger bones, muscles and joints….a pretty impressive list.  Additionally, the mental health benefits enjoyed by those who include some form of physical activity as part of their daily routine – relieving stress, improving memory, boosting their overall mood and positively impacting on depression, proves that physical activity is a winner!
Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!
 Creative thinking, coupled with the desire to be a positive role model will enable school staff to provide an exciting physical activity menu for children, where everyone can reap the benefits.
Here are 6 simple ways you could use, to integrate physical activity in to your school day:

1. Planned Daily Activities

The daily mile may work for your school, a daily dance may work just as well or a daily workout.  We advise a vibrant and varied menu – offer something different every day or every half term.  This could also go some way to help all children find an activity they enjoy and hopefully would want to pursue.  Today, it is possible to find lots of interactive online activities to encourage movement and dance, yoga and functional fitness – search, search and search some more.  Involve the children in creating a weekly menu and give them some ownership – excite them in the planning stage and they will be a captive audience when taking part.

2. Active Curriculum

Physical activity isn’t just for PE lessons! Active lessons across the busy Primary Curriculum can help not only with academic learning but can increase motivation and enthusiasm, address different styles of learning that children may have, by focusing on the kinaesthetic, bringing learning to life in a fun and exciting way, using the creativity Primary teachers possess in bucket loads! Can you teach your maths topic through physical activity? Is there the opportunity to deliver your literacy lesson in a practical way that gets children out of their seats and moving around?

3. Active Playtimes

Opportunities to develop leadership coupled with the provision of activities at playtime is a win – win situation. The less sporty can sometimes be the most amazing leaders, showing empathy and understanding to the less active and promoting regular physical activity through fun games on a daily basis. Two baller, skipping with a long rope, hula hooping and What Time is It Mr Wolf – can you remember the joy they all brought?!  Training of lunchtime supervisors or employing a PE Apprentice can really support active playtimes!

4. Travel to and from school

How do the children travel to school? Walking trains, scooting and cycling are all options to consider – as are incentives in school for doing it.  Promoting this even once a week as a focus day and celebrating participation across school is a possible approach to help develop a healthy habit.  An active start to the day will have children entering school ready to learn! 

5. Regular Brain Breaks

During the school-day, regular brain breaks in the classroom are a positive way of ensuring learning is productive. Brain breaks can be energising, fun, stimulating and effective.  If you implement just 6 x 5 minutes opportunities in a day = 30 minutes of physical activity achieved!

6. The PE lessons count

EVERY SINGLE PE LESSON COUNTS.  Maths doesn’t get cancelled to practise the Christmas play – so why should PE?  A subject which brings so much to our pupils socially, benefits their physical health and fitness as well as their mental health and well-being, develops communication, leadership skills and problem solving surely deserves our full attention!  Sticking with the recommended 2 hours of PE per week, in 2x1hr lessons will cover Active 30 for 2 days (Just 3 days left to plan for)!  Although, we would still advise regular brain breaks and active playtimes, even on a PE day!

A commitment to value PE lessons needs to be a staff culture – something worth nurturing for the benefits it will reap physically, socially and cognitively!

 Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!

More practical ideas:

Schools can access some amazing resources on the free to access County Durham Active 30 Hub –  https://activedurham.org.uk/active30durham

Our Fit for Life programme is designed to support schools to implement Active 30 with 10 minute moderate to vigorous workouts and a series of classroom brain breaks – www.fitforlifeschools.org.uk

Our Active Ted resource pack can help you to track and reward participation as well as inspire activity at home – https://www.go-well.org/product/active-ted-pack/

 

We hope this blog was helpful.  For any further information please contact Annalisa Hopkins – annalisahopkins@go-well.org.

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Go Well Blog

Why moderate to vigorous intensity exercise is important for children and how to measure it.

“Although an activity of any intensity provides health benefits, greater intensity provides more benefits for the same amount of time. Activities need to be of at least moderate to vigorous intensity to achieve the full breadth of health benefits.” – UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines
What is moderate to vigorous intensity exercise?

Physical activity intensity relates to how hard a person has to work to complete the task or activity. Due to different factors including fitness levels, age and health conditions, some people will be able to complete tasks and activities more easily than others. 

What one person might do to reach moderate to vigorous intensity might differ to another, for example during a fitness workout things like the amount of reps completed, amount of weight used or the type of activity may need to be adapted to challenge someones fitness needs. 

Moderate to vigorous intensity activities can include:

  • Functional fitness

  • Weight lifting exercises

  • Invasion games

  • Swimming

 These types of activities are ones which will challenge someones fitness levels and have the most health related benefits such as increase in cardiovascular fitness. – WHO World Health Organisation.

How to measure Moderate to Vigorous Intensity exercise

 There are many different ways you can measure intensity levels to see whether you or someone you are working with is reaching moderate to vigorous intensity levels.

 1. Rate of Perceived Exertion

In the Go Well Fit for Life programme we use a Rate of Perceived Exertion chart to show the different rates of exercise – these are based on how you feel or look after exercise. 

 This is a quick and easy method which requires no equipment and helps children to understand how it looks and feels to be in the moderate to high intensity zone.  We ask children to aim for 6-8 on the scale.  Click here if you would like a free copy of the Fit for Life Rate of Perceived Exertion Poster.

2. NHS Definitions

The NHS provide the following definitions of intensity:

“Moderate intensity activities will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you are working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk but not sing.” – NHS

 “Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you are working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. In general, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity. Most moderate activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort.” – NHS

 So a simple ‘talk test’ at the end or during a session can give you a good indication of the what intensity levels children are reaching.

3. Heart Rate

 Heart Rate can be used to measure intensity levels.  The general calculation of maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.  Therefore, if you are 20 years old your maximum heart rate would be 200BPM.  During exercise, to be working at vigorous intensity, you would need to raise your heart rate to 160BPM (80%).

There is, however, evidence to suggest that children tend to have lower maximum heart rates than the calculation shows.  Therefore, working from this calculation can lead to children exercising too hard which can cause dizziness and breathlessness.  That is not to say heart rate cannot be used to measure childrens’ exercise intensity, rather that caution should be taken and an accurate measure of each individual child’s maximum heart rate would be required to ensure safety.

 How this can help schools?

The Chief Medical Officers Guidelines recommend that children should have 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per day.  Through the Active 30 agenda schools are responsible for providing at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity throughout the school-day. Break times, lunch times, PE lessons, active breaks in and outside the classroom and after school clubs are opportune times to implement some of the activities highlighted to support children to reach moderate to vigorous intensity.

So, if children want to have maximum health benefits then hitting moderate to vigorous intensity levels during physical activity is vital for this to happen.  Alongside this, measuring intensity levels is just as important so that children can have an understanding of how they look and feel when reaching the required intensity levels.

We hope you found this blog helpful.  For any further information please contact – matthewellison@go-well.org