Project for obese and underweight kids could closeBy Nicola Hudson
July 27, 2009
A CHARITY project that rebuilds the confidence of children who are overweight or underweight has been forced to suspend operations due to a lack of funds.
Fit4Life, run by Rushmoor Healthy Living (RHL), came to an end when the charity failed to find financial backing to continue the scheme.
A letter was sent out to 25 companies earlier this month inviting donations of £1,500 to raise the £37,500 needed to cover the full cost of the next phase of the programme, which runs from September this year to July 2010.
As yet, no money has been forthcoming and time is running out to raise the required amount by the deadline of the end of August.
Fit4Life was established two years ago and was successfully piloted in the Wavell, Connaught and Samuel Cody schools, working with children aged 11 to 16 who had weight problems.
A professionally qualified fitness instructor liased with the students, their parents and the schools, holding one-to-one and group sessions to encourage exercise and healthy eating.
The results showed a significant weight and inch loss in the obese children, as well as a great improvement in their self-esteem, which in turn encouraged them to return to school and improve their chances of achieving in their education.
Tony Docker, the charity’s chief executive, said: "The programme was designed for those whose weight was affecting their educational achievement.
"There’s a group of children in every school who whether they are overweight or underweight it affects their self-esteem.
"Once this happens they don’t want to get involved in physical activities or other school activities and will often play truant because they are picked on at school.
"If you address their self-esteem, they are more likely to attend school, do well and go on to gain educational achievements."
Earlier this month the Department of Health published a health profile for Rushmoor, which revealed that 11.7% of children aged four to five in the borough are clinically obese, above the national average.
Physical activity in children aged five to 16 was below the England average, with 88.4% spending at least two hours each week doing school sports, compared to 91.1% a year ago.
Children with weight issues were referred to the Fit4Life programme by school nurses. Their body measurements, mood and thoughts were noted at the start and end of the course.
The children were taught about healthy food and invited to have a healthy breakfast at school.
Cook and Eat classes were included in the programme encouraging children and their parents to learn together how to cook healthy meals on a low budget.
Rushmoor Healthy Living wanted to expand the programme to three more schools in the borough, but it depended on securing financial backing.
The current cost of delivering the specialist Fit4Life programme is £309.48 per pupil per year. Increasing the scheme to six schools per year would cost £63,275, reducing the cost per pupil to £263.65.
In return for a business donation, the charity would include the company’s name in its annual report, press releases and use the company’s logo on relevant paperwork.
To make a donation, e-mail email@example.com or call 01252 362660