Through the summer of 2009 over 100 people from families across Barrow-in-Furness walked with the Ramblers on a series of walking programmes based at Action for Children Children's Centres. This pilot project was run in partnership with Action for Children with funding from the Department of Health.
We ran 12-week walking programmes with customised materials and activities aimed at three different age groupings of pre-school and primary school children and their families, based at five children’s centres in Barrow. We also ran numerous publicity and other events.
The project supported users of Children’s Centres to do more independent walking close to home as a family, with a combination of organised activities and led walks, motivational materials and information devised to appeal to young children, as well as their parents and carers, based around a 12-week walking plan. It was aimed in particular at families who aren’t already active enough for good health, and who therefore have the most to gain from activity.
Building on the Ramblers Get Walking Keep Walking work, it set out to encourage walking as part of everyday life – not only health and leisure walks but everyday trips to the shops, school or work. Benefits to mental health and to the social life of the family were highlighted alongside physical health benefits.
The project was researched by British Heart Foundation experts from Oxford and Loughborough universities to see how well the scheme worked and how much it benefited the participants. The researchers looked at questionnaires completed by walkers and spoke to walkers and staff in interviews and focus groups.
The researchers concluded that: “This project has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of beneficiaries...The partnership was successful in engaging parents with young families. This is a target audience who are often not engaged via other walking initiatives. [It was] well delivered and well received by participants...There is scope to implement the programme in Children’s Centres across the UK.”