The FAB kids outreach project

Mark Edwards, Active7 Trial Manager in the School for Policy Studies, describes how research on lifestyles and healthy eating can be taken into the primary school classroom Mark Edwards

FAB Kids is a school outreach project based on the importance of healthy lifestyles. It’s a free, fun and educational workshop aimed at encouraging children to think critically about their lifestyle choices (nutrition and physical activity in particular).

The project, led by Dr Mark Edwards, is being delivered by research staff in the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences (ENHS) in the School for Policy Studies. ENHS staff do a lot of research into physical activity and nutrition, and much of this is conducted in primary schools in Bristol and the surrounding counties. FAB Kids is one way of thanking the schools and children who take part in our research.

The FAB Kids workshop consists of three activity stations, focusing on Food, Activity and Bodies respectively. The hands-on and engaging activities are aligned with the National Curriculum to ensure that the workshop compliments what is taught elsewhere in school.

Food: The workshop takes a different approach to looking at ‘food’. The focus is on essential and everyday consumption that children largely choose themselves, drinks. This station considers the sugar content of a variety of drinks that children consume. Children do hands-on tests looking at the sugar content of drinks.

Activity: Physical activity is central to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The activity station considers the impact that being active has on the heart. The interactive activities encourage children to think critically about the importance of physical activity for their heart. The effect of activity on the heart is assessed through fun and active experiments.

Bodies: The Bodies station combines the food and activity themes by exploring the impact of lifestyle choice on various parts of the body. This one-of-a-kind fun group activity will have children racing against the clock to accurately complete the task.

The workshop is initially being offered to year 5 and 6 classes across Bristol and the surrounding area. FAB Kids combines the themes that are at the forefront of our research – Food (nutrition), Activity, and Bodies – and incorporates some exciting findings from our studies. FAB Kids is fun, hands-on, sociable, and underpinned by a strong educational message.

Where did the idea come from?

Bizarrely, FAB kids stems from a workshop on dinosaurs Bristol dinosaur project. –  if you’re an aspiring palaeontologist wondering what dinosaur, it was Thecodontosaurus antiquus (‘Theco’ for short). A Public Engagement course run by Ed Drewett (Earth Sciences) so inspired ENHS staff that they went away and started working on a workshop based around healthy lifestyles. We thought, ‘If we swap a dinosaur for a human, and come up with some interesting ideas and content, then we can make our own workshop based on the importance of healthy lifestyles’. Alas, so began the long and enlightening journey to develop what has become the FAB Kids workshop.

At the heart of the FAB workshop are two principles: fun and education. First and foremost, FAB is an educational workshop that builds on the expertise on ENHS staff and the findings of our research. Many experts – academics, research staff, school teachers, and outreach officers – have been involved in the development and refinement of the workshop. Every effort has been made to ensure scientific rigour and to satisfy elements of the National Curriculum. On top of the expert guidance, we knew the workshop had to appeal to children. As such, the messages we want to leave are practicable and enjoyable.

What now?

The first FAB Kids workshop was delivered at Welton Primary School, near Bath, at the start of May. Research staff and postgraduate students delivered the workshop to a great (and excellently behaved) Year 5 group. The FAB Kids volunteers absolutely loved the experience, and the children seemed to also. We received some really positive feedback from children and teaching staff, and are excited about going into more schools. We are currently recruiting schools to receive the free FAB Kids workshop.

About the centre

ENHS is a research centre in the School for Policy Studies. Staff work on a variety of projects focusing on physical activity and nutrition, and their associations with health across the life course. Much of the research in ENHS is conducted with children in local schools. FAB Kids is a way in which staff can share their expertise and study findings with the children and schools that allow the important research to take place.

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