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Holiday food and fun keeps Croydon youngsters healthy throughout summer

Throughout the summer holidays we held the Holiday Food and Fun programme which gave local children the opportunity to stay active and eat healthily throughout the summer.

Almost 200 five to 14 year-olds attended the our new four-week holiday course designed to increase healthy living in Croydon whilst delivering a summer full of fun, activity and education to young south Londoners.

Full of opportunities to try new sports, eat healthy foods and learn about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, the programme was backed by Croydon Council and Family Action. Hosted across Heavers Farm Primary School and the Salvation Army in Thornton Heath, children were given a hot meal every day, as well as a range of healthy snacks.

One main aim of this programme was to get children more active, but not necessarily through the means of organised sports and drills. Mornings on the holiday course began with a ‘Walk a Mile’ activity, which got the participants walking and talking where they were encouraged to walk in groups, form new friendships and actually talk to each other! The rest of the day included a number of sports sessions delivered by Palace for Life coaches. These included classic sessions of football, hockey, rounders and cricket, accompanied by the opportunity to try dodgeball, archery, table tennis, basketball and street golf!

Jerimiah, a nine-year-old who attended throughout the summer, said: “I loved playing in the different activities. I learnt archery which I had never been able to do before and improved my basketball skills.”

The children were given the chance to have free time, where they could take part in the likes of arts and crafts, playing with Lego, Jenga and board games. They were also able to go on the playground and put on their own sports activities which gave them plenty of time to interact with each other, whilst relaxing, having fun and making new friends.

Sinead, 10, loved the chance to make new friends: “I met some girls who are actually going to my school but I have never spoken with them before. Now we can hang out in school”.

We aimed to ensure that we were educating the participants on the importance of healthy living, and how remaining active, eating healthily alongside maintaining healthy habits were an important part of their lifestyle.  Each day there were health workshops held by Palace for Life Nutritionists and Lifestyle Coaches delivering lessons such as nutrition, physical activity, goal setting as well as behaviour change and mindfulness.

Palace for Life Foundation Health Coach, Natalia Krolak-Johansen, said: “I was very pleased with the number of children that participated in the health workshops. They fully engaged in the discussions, and interactive learning that we put on. As some of the children said to me, I felt that there was a perfect balance between learning in classrooms and learning by playing”.

A staggering statistic from the National Health Survey for England 2017, suggests that only 18% of children between the ages of five and 15 eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This added another key message to the programme, where we encouraged children to up their fruit and vegetable intake, through a variety of available snacks throughout the day and at lunchtime. We taught the children how easy it is to add these foods to their everyday routine, as well as encouraged them to try new fruits and vegetables.

Eight-year-old George had never eaten much fruit as he thought he didn’t like it, but after attending the holiday course he said: “At first I didn’t like fruit, but that’s what they were serving us and I began to like some of them. Especially strawberries and oranges which I didn’t like before.”

One parent whose child was on the programme told us: “The programme is very good. It is not just one activity, but the days are split into different activities, sports and some health workshops. Some of the activities were brand new for my child and she would never be interested in playing them if not for the programme. Also, my daughter made new friendships and I know that usually it’s hard for her to make new friends, so I am grateful for that.”

Participants were also surprised with a visit from Crystal Palace F.C first team players, Max Meyer and Mamadou Sakho, read about it here.

Holiday Food and Fun by numbers:

178 children engaged

2,342 Meals Served

96 Activity Sessions

32 Health Workshops

17 SEN participants engaged

 

Find out more about Palace for Life’s Healthy Eagles programmes, HERE.

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Miles were walked during the four-week course by participants!

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