The Learn Play Grow team were out and about on Thursday 15th June, and what an amazing time we had. We attended as part of the ISS Education team, who were involved in the School Food Matters event at Westminster Abbey Gardens.
We were lucky enough to have a beautiful sunny day for the event, and the day started off with a meeting at 7.45am at the venue. We were all given our final briefing and then it was all hands on deck, with everyone getting involved and doing their best to make the day an incredible experience for the hundreds of children that would be attending.
Over 50 schools from the London area were invited into the garden area of Westminster Abbey to enjoy a fun event that focused on healthy living, eating and exercise and fitness.
ISS had set out an incredible stand with a wonderful display of natural foods of all different colours to give a fabulous visual backdrop to their activities. Professionals were on hand to entertain the children, who listened intently to the presenters and soaked up all of the information. The one thing that really struck me was the fact, that because the educational content was made to be so fun and interesting, the children were happy to listen and take in the information.
What I really loved about the event was its holistic approach. The children were given lots of information about how their food is grown, and who better to do this than the ex-Blue Peter Gardener, Chris Collins? He made it fun and exciting and clearly engaged the interest of all the children who clustered around to see what he was doing. He also showed them how to create their own edible hanging baskets, so we’re sure that plenty of parents in the London area were dragged off to garden centres in the searing heat over the weekend to get supplies for the children’s own home made versions.
Following on from Chris’ informative display we moved on to the impressive ISS Education stand – it was a veritable festival for the eyes. The static display featured all the colours of the rainbow along with a vast range of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables and there were lots of activities for inquisitive minds to get stuck into.
The children absolutely loved the milk shake bike; it looked like an exercise bike, but with a food blender at the front. It was such a fun idea – they took turns sitting on the bike and pedalling like crazy to create the energy for the food mixer. The blender created a delicious milk shake from the ingredients they chose to mix up into their very unique concoction. You can imagine the excitement this created; the marquee was just an explosion of noise as each child was cheered on by the whole group, they even managed to convince Zac Goldsmith MP to have a go!
The children also had a chance to experiment with making a meal from scratch using foods that were on offer. One of my favourite stands was the Pitta Pizza stand, where kids were shown how to make a healthy pitta pizza meal. You could tell how popular this activity was; children everywhere could be spotted, sitting or walking and enjoying their pitta pizza creations all day long. Michelin Star chef Tom Aikens was also on hand to add his words of wisdom; he was a very popular personality who attracted a lot of attention from the children.
Once you have spent all that time learning about your food, creating delicious meals and milk shakes and then enjoyed them, you’ll have lots of spare energy. The Learn Play Grow team sprang into action to get kids moving as part of the ISS stand.
We wanted to show the kids that exercise can be fun too – it’s not all serious athletics, press-ups, lunges and sit ups. Our area was split into two, we had an area where they could experience the stretching and strength work with the bands, and another where we introduced them to our great fun parachute game and played with bean bags, tap sticks and silk scarfs to add extra fun to their fitness experience.
We also really wanted to demonstrate the ways that playing and having fun with fitness could lead to enjoying sport, and we chose tennis of course, because Elena and I (as founders of LPG) both committed our professional coaching and competitive careers to the sport.
It was great to see how much the children loved playing games such as uppsies, downsies and twirly whirlies, and we were delighted to be able to introduce hundreds of children to a sport in such a fun and exciting way. We really hope that the day had a positive effect on them, and that they walked away happy, thinking about healthy lifestyle and maybe even a sport to commit to.
I can honestly say that this was a very special day, not only for the children, but also for the army of adults that made it all happen. I know that the whole LPG team went back to Ipswich having had a fantastic experience with the ISS team, and all the children that visited from the many London schools.
Nino Severino – LPG Founder