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NCSEM-EM academics to evaluate Active Link programme

Loughborough University academics Dr Florence Kinnafick, Dr Lauren Sherar and Dr Andrew Brinkley are working with Fit4Life CIC, Sport Birmingham and City of Birmingham Schools on a project ‘Active Link’ using physical activity to raise aspirations and help build positive relationships for pupils in Birmingham.

Active Link uses sport and positive role models to promote good mental health, life aspirations and positive lifestyle choices among young people attending the City of Birmingham Schools, pupil referral unit.

The project has worked with pupils at a pupil referral unit in Birmingham to co-create an intervention designed with pupils for the pupils. The project gave pupils the opportunity to suggest activities and try taster sessions in new sports such as ice skating, rock climbing, wheelchair basketball and boxing.

The programme uses mentors working with Sport Birmingham as role models to help support pupils through the programme. Fit4Life CIC is jointly founded by Dawn Warner and GP, TV personality and NHS England Physical Activity Clinical Champion Dr Zoe Williams who has been heavily involved in the project, meeting with pupils and joining in with workshops.

The Loughborough academics are evaluating the acceptability, effectiveness, feasibility, fidelity and sustainability of the Active Link Programme.

The evaluation aims to examine the process of the co-creation and implementation of the programme as well as potential changes to health outcomes through questionnaires, body composition and physical function measures.

It will also aim to understand the experience of pupils, staff and stakeholders on the programme by using qualitative methods to understand the acceptability, feasibility, cost effectiveness, fidelity and sustainability of the intervention.

Dr Florence Kinnafick said: “The crucial feature of this programme is that it is co-designed by the pupils it is working with. Giving them ownership over the project and allowing them input into the activities they do will hopefully provide both physical and mental improvements.

“We are delighted to be working with Fit4Life CIC, Sport Birmingham and City of Birmingham Schools on evaluating this exciting project, which is really important to be able to demonstrate the impact the programme has on the participants and to inform future initiatives.”

Dr Zoe Williams said: “Our approach to co-creating this project with young people has enabled the students to gain trust in their mentors from Sport Birmingham: they feel listened to, empowered, and proud of themselves for what they have created in this project. We are starting to see measurable outcomes from Active Link, which is incredibly encouraging.”