OCL Kids Zone helps to tackle childhood obesity

A PROJECT designed to prevent childhood obesity in Oldham has, after just a year, already helped 64.6 percent of children on the scheme to stabilise their body mass index and a quarter to actually lower it.

The Kids’ Zone project, run by Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) and funded by the Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group’s Dragons Den project, was launched in April 2014. It has already helped 93 children to become more involved in physical activity and lower their BMI. OCLKidsZoneLogo-250x296

Nearly one in five children aged 10/11 in Oldham are obese and, if the current trend continues, two thirds of children will be obese by 2050. Strikingly, the number of children who are of a healthy weight is 10 percent lower in year six compared to reception age children.

The scheme specifically targets these pupils and invites every reception and year six child who takes part in the National Child Measurement Scheme and has a BMI of ‘very overweight’ to join the OCL Kids’ Zone Exercise Referral Scheme.

This entitles them to a free or discounted junior membership for six months and access to a selection of activity courses and sessions including swimming, trampolining, diving, gymnastics, badminton, climbing and football.

Julie Hilditch, Health and Physical Activity Development Officer (Dragon’s Den) at OCL,said: “All children on the scheme are encouraged to choose their favourite activity on the course, which helps to inspire their participation and therefore increase their activity levels and improve their BMI.

“Because the Kids’ Zone sessions are integrated into normal lessons, children on the scheme don’t feel singled out in any way. No one needs to know why they’re attending and this helps them to feel part of the group, join in and get the most from whatever sessions they’re participating in. It’s this inclusiveness that makes them feel comfortable and happy to participate.

“Because the scheme is family oriented, we’ve also noticed it also has a knock-on effect on other members of the child’s family. The scheme has greatly increased the families’ uptake of the OCL Active card and parents have told us we’ve helped to change their shopping habits and get them, their child and siblings eating more healthily and all exercising together. We couldn’t ask for more.”

A new activity, Family Table Tennis at Chadderton Wellbeing Centre, has this month been added to the scheme, and is free to Kids’ Zone members and just £1 with an OCL Active Card.

On the recommendation of the Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, OCL has plans to make the scheme available to children who are ‘overweight’, not just those who are ‘very overweight’, in the coming months.

For more information, visit the OCL Kids Zone website.

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