Eight young people from West Berkshire celebrated their success in front of their proud families and friends yesterday (Thursday, 12 May) after completing Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s (RBFRS) first ever FireFit course in partnership with West Berkshire Council’s Public Health and Wellbeing Team, and Trinity School.
FireFit is a new, 10-week after-school programme, which aims to improve the wellbeing of young people aged 11-16 by providing them and their families with a better understanding of healthy eating and physical activity. The pilot scheme started on 23 February and involved eight Year 8 pupils from Trinity School taking part in two sessions totalling two and a half hours each week, held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at Newbury Fire Station.
Sessions were run by firefighters and members of RBFRS’ Prevention team, all of whom hold a range of qualifications, including nutrition for physical activity, children’s fitness, and a mental health first aid course. Each week, the young people took part in different activities designed to provide them with the support and guidance they need to increase their physical activity and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These included circuit training, a mixture of fire service activities such as running hose reels and hydrants, and learning about the sugar content in food and swapping unhealthy snacks for more nutritious ones.
To support the young people outside of the programme, parents and guardians were encouraged to join in with the healthy eating sessions to ensure engagement and understanding from the whole family.
The end of the FireFit programme was celebrated with a ‘passing out’ parade to showcase the new skills the young people had learned. As well as their families and friends, special guests including Chief Fire Officer Andy Fry and Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paul Southern watched the young people put on an impressive demonstration, before they were presented with their certificates of achievement.
Feedback from the young people has been excellent, including: “Amazing experience, lots of fun and hard work”; “It turned me into a healthier person” and “FireFit is my life, I don’t want it to end!”
Liz Warren, Risk Reduction Manager at RBFRS, said: “Part of our strategic commitment to contribute to a broader safety, health and wellbeing agenda is to inspire young people and encourage them to adopt healthier lifestyles. FireFit is just one of the ways we are doing this and the pilot scheme has been a great success.
“We are very grateful to West Berkshire Council for supporting the delivery of the FireFit course. We have been commissioned by the Council to deliver another two courses by February 2017 and are then hoping to roll out the scheme across the county.
“All of the FireFit team members are extremely proud of all of the young people for successfully completing the course. It has been a privilege to see how they have grown in confidence and fitness each week, and we have no doubt that they will use all the skills and information they have learned to continue to live healthier lifestyles.”
Graham Jones, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing said, “We are delighted to have been able to support this innovative programme. What young person wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to train alongside fire officers and enjoy all the excitement that goes with using the hose, learning about first aid and getting healthier and fitter in the process?
“The life skills the young people now have and the confidence they have built will stay with them for the long-term.”