Our new activity tracker project has been eye opening says Dawn Shillingford
“It’s really emotional to see people who didn’t think they could exercise actually now exercising,” says the Physical Inactivity Officer for Erewash.
What is the Activity Club project?
It’s trying to get people more active in areas where they’re known to be slightly more inactive.
Tell us a bit more about the Activity Club.
It’s a project that uses an inacitivty tracker to engage with residents in this area where we meet up weekly, record their details, how active they’ve been each week, each day and we work with the group to remove barriers to their participation to increase their participation in more activities throughout the week.
What are some of you success stories?
We’ve had one lady who participated in an exercise class for the first time she has mobility issues where she didn’t realise that she could actually do an activity class.
We’ve helped her realise she can but offering her taster sessions and since then she’s actually joined an activity class outside of this club, which is a big benefit to her.
She’s now participating in exercise classes, she’s also trying to lobby the local parish council and get the group behind her to try and get some funding to get some outdoor equipment to try and get the local park more of a useable outdoor space for adults and children so they’re trying to get some outdoor gym hopefully we’ll then support her in that process and hopefully put on classes alongside her on those parks on those facilties.
Why is this whole project important to you personally?
It’s really emotional to see people who didn’t think they could exercise actually now exercising.
People who maybe have severe weight issues mobility problems are not able to realise they can actually do a sport or some physical activity. On starting the project there was one lady who was literally like Dawn I need to see you beforehand, I want to do the project but I just need some reassurance so I met up with her before the project to reassure those fears and talk through the project and seeing somebody who is quite fearful of doing exercise actually then exercising and being more active and getting a real benefit from it, is heartwarming.
I’ve always exercised it just come natural to me it’s what I do but to other people it isn’t, it’s quite a crucial part of someone’s life to be fit and active and maintain their health whether it’s through their work or personal time so for me it’s really heartwarming to see people actually taking something away from this and giving them the tools so that they can then go on and do it on their own so we’re then just supporting them and they’re finding their own way.
The Erewash trial period came to an end but the group just didn’t want it to stop and that’s the point – they’re keeping it going themselves, which is fantastic.
When you come up with these ideas you think, ‘is it going to work?’ and when we did the pilot and as it kept evolving we realise, ‘oh wow, this is working’ and it’s actually working better than we planned in the office.
So when the 10-week pilot came to an end and people wanted to continue that means you’ve done something. It’s created quite a few community and friendships and even just people checking up on each other.
So we’ve had one lady walk past the hairdressers and when she saw a fellow group member sat down, she pointed to her FitBit and said,’er excuse me, your FitBit!’.
Seeing people having a bit of banter with fitness and activity makes you realise it’s instilling something in people’s minds, we’re changing their thought process, their behaviour. We may not be able to measure it fully today but it’s a gradual step and hopefully in two years, three years time these behaviours will be ingrained in people and it would have changed them forever.
The Activity Tracker enables you to measure people’s improvements as well as the particpants checking it to see any improvement?
When you have an activity tracker on you can see how active you are and I think having that tool, people realise, ‘actually I need to do more steps’.
People will be getting towards the end of the day thinking, ‘I’ve only done 6,000 steps today I’d better do a little bit more’ whereas previously they might have sat down and watched Eastenders or something. Or they might still be watching Eastenders but doing some activity while they’re watching it.
So it is just changing those processes and people are able to monitor what they’ve done and one of the tools I gave people was to give people an idea of how far they’ve walked by saying they’ve walked so many kilometres you’ve almost reached Birmingham you’ve almost reached Skegness.
It’s a very inspirational programme. I’m just a facilitator that has enabled the community to come together. I feel there’s been an absolute need from the community and shouting out that they need help and this is just a way that points them in the right direction and it’s just really good.