This week is Children’s Mental Health Week (7-13 February), which aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health. Bristol Sport Foundation (BSF) has been delivering its Bristol Flyers Health Squad programme to schools across the city, teaching children about how to make positive lifestyle choices and the intrinsic link between a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Health Squad was recently delivered at Filton Hill Primary School and the feedback from the staff and students has been really positive,

“The children absolutely loved the sessions. They’ve really enjoyed hearing and learning from real sports professionals and as teachers, we found this an inspiring and a powerful hook for engaging our classes. The fact that the classroom sessions had practical elements, like when the children measured out the amount of sugar in certain foods and drinks was brilliant. The structure and pace of the lessons is great, using positive reinforcement and fun, like throwing small basketballs into the hoop and giving shout outs.”

Using basketball and the Bristol Flyers players to inspire and engage children, Health Squad is delivered through classroom-based lessons and practical basketball sessions and covers a range of topics including mental health awareness. There are lessons on the importance of activity for our physical and mental health, how our brains work and why we should look after them, processing emotions and cognitive reactions, and how to develop strategies to maintain good mental health.

“All staff members involved felt the programme was delivered very well and the BSF team were terrific. The children have been really engaged and clearly enjoyed it very much. Both classes have pupils who can display challenging behaviour; however, in all sessions, the children have been awesome and this is testament to the program and the skills of your staff.”

Rosie Nield, Bristol Sport Foundation’s Education Lead says: “It’s the nicest feeling in the world when we return to a school and the teacher says the children have been so excited about you coming in. Delivering Health Squad, I often walk into the class and the children greet me with such enthusiasm saying things like, ‘What are we going to learn today!?’ The nature of how we developed the classroom lessons to be packed with games, activities and discussion points keeps me as inspired to deliver it as the children seem thrilled to engage with it. I feel immensely lucky to deliver and be a part of a course like this.”

Thanks to our funding partners, the Bristol Sport Foundation was able to deliver its Bristol Flyers Health Squad programme to six Greater Bristol primary schools all based in areas of high deprivation. More than 350 children received the weekly health and well-being lessons and at the end of the programme children were invited to attend a Health Squad Christmas Holiday Hub at Ashton Gate Stadium.

Tom Monks, Bristol Sport Foundation’s Head of Programmes, says,

“As a charity, one of our core objectives is to increase participation of children and young people in physical activity by breaking down barriers and creating opportunities to fall in love with sport, whoever you are and wherever you come from. The support from Aardman, Netflix and South Gloucestershire Council meant we were able to deliver Health Squad to some of the children that needed it most. It’s amazing to see the children having fun and benefiting from our programmes, that our coaches work so hard to deliver.”