Fitness and fun for young people growing up in Bristol’s tower blocks

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“Jacobs Wells is a pocket of deprivation which falls within the BS8 postcode – a very affluent area in Bristol, so there were no community projects happening” say JumpStart Fitness. That’s changed now thanks to a grant through Quartet Community Foundation 

We awarded Jump Start Fitness £2,000 in May 2018 towards 50 JumpStart Kids sessions, over one year, at Brandon House Flats.

“JumpStart Kids” is an after-school fitness club for children who live in Brandon House – Jacobs Wells; Ledbury Road Flats – Fishponds; and Barton Hill.

Once a week in each location, around 20 kids get fit for an hour after school on the grass by their flats. They play fitness games, sing songs, take part in plank challenges, races, boxing skills, parachute games and more. The games develop physical fitness team work (there are winners and losers!), listening and reaction skills, leadership and learn how their bodies work.

They finish with fruit, a pep talk and a reward chart with small steps to achieve each week eg: to brush my teeth, to have one hour of screen-free time per day and to be a helping hand – to be the change in their own community.

So what difference has the grant made for local people?

The bleep test results show the sessions have boosted cardiovascular fitness and co-ordination.

Grandad John* and his wife have legal guardianship for their grandson Kai*, 6 – but both battle long-term illness, so giving him the exercise he needs is difficult:

“Really positive things have happened to Kai since he’s come along: he’s so much better at home. He’s learned about physical activity, its importance and how to play different games. He’s also learned how to eat a well-balanced diet – eating things he wouldn’t have tried at home. It’s been a breath of fresh air, I can’t say enough to praise it”.

Mum Rhiannon* says: “My older son Dan* is now more confident socially: the sessions get him off the computer, mixing with the other kids and he’s made good friends with another boy. I know his dad would say the same. Now he actually goes out to play, and he’s joined an after-school football club.”

Building trust in the local community
Residents’ Committee member Heather says, “JumpStart draws on the skills and enthusiasm of the parents, helping them in their roles. Jumpstart has made an amazing impact on the children of this area”.

Jane Rogers from JumpStart Fitness said: “This grant has helped us run for a year, and so given us time to secure funding for a further three years. Knowing that we’re there for the long haul has helped us to build connections and trust with the community.

“As well as the money it has validated our idea: JumpStart Kids was a project which started as a conversation between the Director and a member of the Residents Committee who felt like their community was forgotten: Jacobs Wells is a pocket of deprivation which falls within the BS8 postcode – a very affluent area in Bristol, so there were no community projects happening.

“It has given us the opportunity and time to test its effectiveness and replicate the project – we now operate in four tower blocks across the city.”

The project has boosted residents’ fitness
Residents’ overall activity levels have increased: Mum Rhiannon says: “JumpStart brings the community together: we all come out together on a Friday afternoon, we work together and we do things together”.

Residents’ Committee member Judy says: “We have seen benefits of the Jump-Start Kids project within our wider multigenerational and very diverse community”.

Mum of five Bilan* brings her children every week, and has also come to the mums’ fitness classes: “JumpStart has had a lot of benefits to my family: before I have to push the children to eat fruit and vegetables, but now they want to eat them.”

JumpStart has also given Bilan* confidence and she’s found her identity: “Before I started the mums’ exercise classes, I was just a mum: I stay at home, I look after the kids, and I cook and clean. Now I’m fit and well and I started college so I thank JumpStart for that. I’ve lived here for 10 years and now it’s the friendliest flats I’ve ever lived in.”

Her daughter Caaisho* (11) says: “I like jumpstart because it makes us fit and healthy we also eat healthy food. Now we understand what food is healthy and what is unhealthy.”

Her younger brother Farras* (6) says: “I like jumpstart because I play with my friends. Now I know how to chop tomatoes and cucumber and they are delicious. And now I help my mummy with the cooking.”

*Please note names of JumpStart participants have been changed.