A team of Sports Management students from Bournemouth University have partnered with new Bournemouth attraction, RockReef, to tackle childhood obesity within Dorset.
Doctors have stated that UK childhood obesity rates are the worst in Western Europe, which is only expected to worsen if no effective strategies are implemented. There are a range of serious illnesses related to childhood obesity with some of these illnesses including type-2 diabetes, asthma and other respiratory problems.
Local reports, published in 2010, show NHS Bournemouth and Poole to have spent an astounding £92.8 million treating obesity related illnesses. This figure has continued to increase as 7.84% of children of Reception school age and 15.43% of children in Year 6 were categorised as obese in 2012.
In order to prevent childhood obesity, the Department of Health state that it is pivotal that children and young people engage in a minimum of 60-minutes physical activity per day, whilst incorporating a healthy balanced diet into their lifestyle.
Since late 2014, the consultancy group, studying Sport Management at Bournemouth University have been investigating the ways in which RockReef Indoor Adventure Activity Centre, can help tackle the school age obesity problem in Bournemouth.
Having opened in 2014, RockReef has taken indoor climbing to new heights by taking real adventure sports and adapting them to the family day out attractions market. Its proud boast is that it brings “the great outdoors indoors” and the mountains to the city! Guests need no previous experience, training or commitment to membership. It has been designed to deliver fun for all ages without the training, technical know-how, ability or kit.
RockReef includes an all-weather indoor adventure activity attraction which features 25 “Clip n Climb” fun, themed indoor climbing walls, a real rock wall climbing experience, a Vertical Drop Slide, a ‘Leap of Faith’ Challenge, The HighLine high ropes obstacle course and the PierCave which is a 65-linear metre indoor fun cave experience with 2 different routes and levels of difficulty.
The students of Bournemouth University conducted a vast amount of research, examining how the diverse array of activities at RockReef can be utilised to get more children regularly active.
The benefits of the activities at RockReef were analysed and identified as including physiological, psychological and sociological benefits such as disease prevention, cardiovascular fitness, posture, weight control, improved confidence, self-esteem, communicational and listening skills, leadership and team work.
Through the Bournemouth University group’s findings Openwide International Ltd Directors who run RockReef were presented with a set of recommendations that will enable the indoor adventure activity centre to maximise its potential in tackling the school age obesity problem.
Recommendations included a focus on after school clubs and students with a particular focus on a special family package, including a family loyalty programme. Suggestions were made for key partnerships to be set up in the local and regional communities, including involvement in a GP referral scheme and partnering the University’s own Kids Camp Club.
Openwide International Director, Steve Cutbush enthused, ”This research has been very well received here at RockReef and given us invaluable, independent analysis and verification of the solution to the lack of adventure and challenge that young people face in today’s world. “
Steve continued, “Our after school clubs, Rockstars, are proving to be a real success. The 6 week programme allows individuals to attain core skills, achieve personal fitness, gain confidence and develop personally, whilst ultimately having fun. At RockReef it’s easy to just turn up, have huge amounts of fun and be healthy without even knowing it! We look forward to implementing some of the recommendations that have been made by the students.”
Ben Goodson, member of the consultancy group which worked on the project and a student studying Sports Management at Bournemouth University added, “This has been a great opportunity for us to be involved in. Working towards tackling the school age obesity problem in Bournemouth with an organisation such as RockReef has been a great experience for all of us. We are delighted to have provided RockReef with a range of recommendations which we feel will have a positive impact in reducing childhood obesity in Bournemouth.”