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Source: City of Leeds

Youngsters from Leeds and their parents took part in a ‘mini sports day’ yesterday at the launch of a brand new physical activity initiative.

The initiative, entitled Active Imaginations, is an online resource which has been launched to help parents and carers come up with ways to ensure 2 to 4-year-olds get a healthy amount of physical activity. It is recommended that children aged 2 to 4 should be active for at least 180 minutes per day.

Parents and children at Little Owls Nursery and Children’s Centre Swarcliffe and Castleton Children’s Centre were amongst the first in Yorkshire to try out the new resource. Children took part in activities such as balloon ‘keepie-ups’ and a limbo competition.

The Active Imaginations website features a range of ideas for games and activities that can be done at home; indoors and outdoors; in small spaces; with restricted mobility; and with one child or more.

Launching with activities including ‘sock basketball’ and ‘bottle bowling’, the Active Imaginations team will be filming with families in locations throughout Yorkshire this week to create new ideas that can be shared on their website and social media channels.

Leeds City Council is one of five local authorities to take part in the project in partnership with Public Health England and The Yorkshire and Humber Association of Directors of Public Health.

Councillor Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Children and Families said:

“One of our priorities outlined in Leeds’ Children and Young People’s Plan is to encourage physical activity – which will help ensure that our youngest residents enjoy healthy lifestyles. I’m therefore delighted that Leeds is one of five local authorities to take part in the Active Imaginations project. It’s a fantastic resource full of simple ideas that can be done in the home or outside using everyday household objects.

“Life is extremely busy – particularly when you’ve got little ones to look after, so I’m really pleased that we are able to support local families by giving them a helping hand and a splash of inspiration to keep their children healthy and entertained. I would urge all parents and carers to take advantage of this wonderful resource. By working together with families and partner organisations, we can continue to drive forward our ambition to make Leeds the best city for children and young people to grow up in.”

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults said:

“In Leeds, we have a bold ambition to be the best city for health and wellbeing – for all ages. The benefits of physical activity are huge and wide-ranging, from boosting people’s immune systems to combatting obesity and reducing the impacts of, and in some cases even reversing, long term conditions.

“Encouraging physical activity for very young children can help ensure they get the best start in life, along with having a positive impact on their health as they get older. It’s hugely important that we help 2-to-4-year-olds get the recommended amount of physical activity every day to ensure that we reinforce positive, healthy lifestyle choices as early as possible. Active Imaginations is a fantastic way to do this and will also make sure they have fun growing up!”

Gemma Mann, children’s health and wellbeing lead at Public Health England, said:

“It’s really important that all children get the necessary daily physical activity they need to stay healthy. The benefits for children are well evidenced. Moving more helps young children to develop motor skills, improves cognitive development, helps them maintain a healthy weight, enhances bone and muscular development and supports the learning of social skills.”

Tom Bieniek, Amelia’s dad, said: “Amelia is so full of energy. She loves balloons and jumping around. When you don’t have much time or money, it’s great to be able to do creative things at home.”

For more information, view the Active Imaginations website at www.activeimaginations.co.uk.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

The five local authorities taking part in the initiative are Leeds, Hull, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

Chief Medical Officer Guidelines for 2-4 Year Olds

Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.*

All 2-4 years olds should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).

*Most UK pre-school children currently spend 120–150 minutes a day in physical activity, so achieving this guideline would mean adding another 30–60 minutes per day.

Individual physical and mental capabilities should be considered when interpreting the guidelines.

Examples of physical activity that meet the guidelines;

Physical activity is likely to occur mainly through unstructured active play but may also include more structured activities. Activities can be of any intensity (light or more energetic) and may include:

  • Activities which involve movements of all the major muscle groups, i.e. the legs, buttocks, shoulders and arms, and movement of the trunk from one place to another
  • Energetic play, e.g. climbing frame or riding a bike
  • More energetic bouts of activity, e.g. running and chasing games
  • Walking/skipping to shops, a friend’s home, a park or to and from a school

Minimising sedentary behaviour may include:

  • Reducing time spent watching TV, using the computer or playing video games
  • Reducing time spent in a pushchair or car seat – this can also help to break up long periods of sedentary behaviour

What are the benefits of being active for at least 180 minutes each day?

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Contributes to a healthy weight
  • Improves bone health
  • Supports learning of social skills
  • Develops movement and co-ordination

MIL OSI United Kingdom