Crystal Palace FC Promotes Healthy Eating and Fitness Among Families
The foundation has worked with the South London community for over 25 years, and aims to help the most hard-to-reach areas. The charity guides over 13,000 people each year into leading a healthier lifestyle, from football sessions to workshops in local schools and colleges. The foundation aims to have a strong connection with the community and support each individual to building a better life.The Healthy Eagles campaign offers a range of programmes to cover all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Since its launch in October 2017, over 160 children have started the programme to guide them into making the own healthy food choices. The course offers the opportunity to participate in exercise classes, workshops at schools, and cooking activities to learn about the importance of nutrition.
Palace for Life started the Healthy Eagles programme after recognising that childhood obesity levels were above the national average in the London Borough of Croydon. Healthy Eagles is a child weight management service, commissioned by the council to steer children in the right direction. Crystal Palace FC chairman, Steve Parish, commented on the life-changing work the programme offers. He said: “With one in every three local 10-year-old children being overweight and obese we want to use our unique and privileged position to do something about this.”
The Healthy Eagles campaign runs a two-tier element to the programme in order to tailor the sessions to a specific age group. The first tier focuses on parents and communities in high priority areas. The team works closely with ‘Healthy Schools’ and provides six-week ‘cook and eat’ sessions with children and their families.
The second tier is available at age groups: 4-11 and 12-16 years old. Teens can attend on their own with consent from their parent or guardian and are encouraged to document their progress in a journal. The programme is not just for young people, but aims to get the whole family involved in changing their eating habits and lifestyle for the better. The programme provides a support network to help aid parents and carers in their journey, and each family is provided with a journal to track their development on the scheme. The on-going support from families is a key aspect of the programme. A mum of two describes the changes that have been made in her household. She said: “Drink-wise, there’s now no fizzy. Now, when we go out there are no arguments over fizzy drinks.
“Before, they might have thought ‘we’re not at home so we can get away with loads of sugar’. We’ve been out for dinner in restaurants and they’ve ordered water! That never happens. When they said they wanted to have water I could have fallen down if I wasn’t sitting.”
Merenna Wilson, health and wellbeing co-ordinator for the Palace for Life Foundation, commented on how rewarding the scheme was to her.
She said: “It’s amazing when children who start out by sitting on the side start enjoying physical activity, and it’s very rewarding to see them learn life skills such as how to read food labels and understand the Eatwell guide. It’s also very special when parents and children alike make friendships at our sessions.”
She added: “Our seniors session for children aged 12-16 has been our most popular session. Young people in this age group can often be hard to reach – especially when running nutrition and exercise workshops “However, we have found that children at this session have formed strong friendships and have been really responsive to our curriculum. Our seniors were visited by [BBC TV’s] Match of the Day this term who made a feature on their work. This was an amazing opportunity for our children.”
For more information visit www.palaceforlife.org/healthy-eagles.