Family Fit UK: Our Story So Far

Andy Freeman and Paula Appleton with Craig Smith (CRS Editorial)
6 January 2021

Family time. Two short words, one attainable goal.
In the modern, high-octane world in which we live, it has never been easier to become
distracted from the thing that matters the most. As we enter our fourth year, the desire to
combine passion for physical activity and time with loved ones is as strong as ever. At the
dawn of 2021, we should allow for a moment’s nostalgia to highlight our achievements to
date, and to thank you – our amazing community – for being a key part of the journey to help
break down the barriers to physical activity.

Family, fun and fitness
Akin to an introduction on Family Fortunes, where the part of the host in this case was
played by Facebook, ‘Paula, meet Andy’.

Andy’s background of working with children and young people on their physical literacy skills
both in the UK and at summer camps in the US, twinned with Paula’s experience of
designing and building children’s playgrounds, meant these two stars were destined to align.
The combination of these areas of expertise, and a realisation that no family activities
existed at minimal cost with the benefit of providing fun and physical activity, brought Family
Fit UK into the world (thanks in no small part to Paula’s daughter for the name!).
Despite having the desire to attend, Paula had experienced barriers for adults taking part in
her running sessions, due to work patterns or childcare issues. Andy’s sessions required
parents to transport their children. So, in a lightbulb moment for the pair, sessions that
include children and their parents were introduced.

In all Family Fit UK sessions, children learn the fundamental aspects of physical literacy by
doing what they do best – playing. With accompanying adults joining in with the fun, lifetime
family memories are forged.

Word quickly spread and Wakefield Council soon commissioned Family Fit UK to create two
programmes for families in the community; one in Ossett, the other in Kettlethorpe. The
people who attended these initial 12-week programmes remain key contributors to Family Fit
UK; some are now running half marathons, which goes to show it is about children and
adults embracing physical activity.

A big thank you!
The countless positive comments received about our sessions are testament to the fun we
have, and for this, we thank you.

We simply love what we do. The fact you − our community − return time and again, with
some even cutting short visits around the country to be with us, is truly humbling. Away from
the sessions, people have nurtured friendships and created support networks.
The fact there is zero negativity in our sessions is as much to do with our attendees as it is
us. If a parent or child cannot do something in the session, we just adapt and move on.
Ultimately, the name of the game is fun, so if you leave the session beaming like a Cheshire
cat (or should that be a Wakefield wildcat?), then our job is done!

So, what’s next?
The answer: much of the same, but maybe in the future on a wider scale with the return of
holiday camps.
Local organisations have been in touch after witnessing the impact of Family Fit UK. Exciting
times lay ahead!
We simply love engaging the community in physical activity and offering an environment
where families can play together. Not that the families have all the fun, though, as we like to
join in too!

#familyfun #physicalactivity #enjoyment

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