Healthy Goals: Better Lives

In 2015, Healthy Stadia launched a new three year project working with young people aged 15 - 17 years old, in conjunction with Everton Football Club's charitable foundation, Everton in the Community. Healthy Stadia has developed a bespoke healthy lifestyle and motivational programme - Healthy Goals, Better Lives - that uses the power of sport, in this case football, to educate on key lifestyle risk factors, including, physical activity, healthier diet, the risks associated with alcohol, and the dangers of smoking tobacco.

Adolescence is an important period in life, and as there is no formal school health curriculum, many young people do not develop the skills and acquire the knowledge that they need to make good decisions with regard to their health. It is therefore a crucial time to arm adolescents entering further education, work or vocational training with accurate and reliable health information so they can develop lifelong healthy behaviours.

Consequently, Healthy Stadia has developed Healthy Goals, Better Lives, a healthy lifestyle programme that is delivered to cohorts of young people enrolled on the UK's National Citizenship Service (NCS) programme at Everton in the Community. Using a 'train the trainer' approach, community sports coaches are trained to educate young people about lifestyle risk factors, such as physical activity, food and nutrition, alcohol and tobacco usage in addition to receiving a dedicated session on goal-setting delivered by the social enterprise 'Coaching and Community Support' that helps to motivate young people and build their self-esteem.

The theme of setting both short- and long-term goals runs through the programme, offering participants a framework for making changes to their lifestyle and structuring future life choices. An additional module on relationships and sex education will developed in the final year of the project (2017).

Coaches are trained by senior public health and behaviour change experts, and are equipped with an eight module health lifestyle programme, that can be completed in four, six or eight weeks. The programme includes a toolkit, weekly training modules with practical exercises, handouts for participants and a monitoring framework. The course is delivered during the summer months at a number of sports settings within the city, using a classroom for theoretical tuition, and 5-a-side pitches and gym settings to bring healthy lifestyle and motivational messages to life through physical activity and sports coaching.

Joe Rowe, NCS Manager, Everton in the Community, said:

"We had a range of different young people access Healthy Goals through our NCS programme. The best part about Healthy Goals is that is doesn't just focus on one particular health theme, and we have seen significant improvements in health behaviours of a number of our young people through the sessions. In particular the alcohol sessions which have had a real impact on the young people, as they are now a lot more open when talking about some of the issues they face and some situations they have found themselves in, in relation to alcohol."

The project is one of 64 health and wellbeing initiatives to have been funded through the £3m Healthy Liverpool Community Grant Scheme that has been administered by Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group for 2014-2017.

Healthy Goals, Better Lives is now available for all sports clubs delivering NCS or other social inclusion programmes targeting 15-17 year olds as a way to embed key life skills.