Organisation: Conwy Youth Service
Provision: Virtual fitness and wellbeing sessions
Contact: Paul Cairns
'Monday Motivation’ was a virtual wellbeing session held on a weekly basis from January – April 2021.
We identified the need for this project through discussions with young people who stated how much they were missing fitness sessions with us. Not only for physical health but also their mental wellbeing. As a result to this feedback and Wales entering another lockdown in January 2021, we developed an online wellbeing session which would:
- Introduce young people to the “5 ways to wellbeing” strands
- Participate in activities surrounding the 5 ways to wellbeing
- Complete an online workout together
- And support young people to connect with one and other during a time where face to face contact was not allowed.
Each week, young people participated in an activity online based on one of the 5 strands. https://www.mindkit.org.uk/5-ways-to-wellbeing/
They would be set a challenge to complete at home associated with that strand. The online workout which was delivered during the session would also be uploaded to our social media platforms as a video for young people to continue to engage with at home between our online sessions.
The overall aim of these sessions were to provide young people with the opportunity to exercise and participate in activities to support their health and wellbeing through tight lockdown restrictions.
Support calls with young people and parents provided opportunity for us to listen to them. This allowed us to understand what online provisions were needed and when. A consultation around sessions then took place.
During “Children’s mental Health Week”, we focused on how young people and parents could ‘express themselves’ to help support, protect and improve their mental health. A group of young people were also part of an online Participatory Budgeting Youth Grants Steering group to help identify and decide upon funding for projects in a local area. (One young person who took part has now gone on to win the Bay of Colwyn Town Council young volunteer of the year award.)
The virtual youth clubs were planned and evaluated by young people, including Conwy Young Carers. They had shared what they would like to do next which resulted in a variety of sessions being delivered. We could see that COVID-19 was affecting young people’s health and wellbeing. We hosted virtual wellbeing sessions for them covering topics such as Time for you, Body image/body talk, Mental health and nutrition. Additional virtual groups were created to support young people who wanted to keep active based on their identified need.
Conwy Youth Service has shown innovation, resilience and resourcefulness during an exceptionally difficult year. Our face to face work might have changed dramatically, but our youth work didn’t. We continued to support young people aged 11-25 in Conwy, contributing to improving their well-being, confidence and self-esteem while also giving them further opportunity to participate in different online projects that focused on improving their health and well-being. By maintaining this contact and providing this support, young people continued to engage with us.
Our online sessions were safe and accessible for young people to attend, and allowed them to participate fully and effectively and to be empowered to think differently. Sessions were also inclusive and gave young people the opportunity to have their say about what aspect of health, fitness and wellbeing they’d like to focus on. This enabled them to be creative and innovative in their thinking.
As a service we truly value the opinions and feedback of the young people who attend our session. Their input was valuable and helped develop the project over time.
When we started ‘Monday Motivation’ virtual project, we encouraged the young people who attended to keep their cameras on during the workout section. This was mainly so that we could ensure the young people were safe. However, we soon realised that many of the young people felt self-conscious exercising with the cameras on, and as a result they weren’t getting the full benefits of the session. We listened and adapted our delivery. We encouraged the young people to keep their microphones on in case they needed any help, and we checked in with everyone during regular breaks to make sure they were happy.
As the project progressed, we asked the young people to lead on the decisions for the workout format each week. We asked for their feedback, what they enjoyed and what they wanted to achieve and implemented those changes to the sessions moving forward. We used their feedback to improve the weekly exercise videos we posted on our social media platforms to encourage more young people to be active during the lockdown period.
I believe this project was of huge benefit for the young people who engaged. With increasing concerns surrounding how lockdown restrictions was impacting on young people’s mental health and wellbeing the project resulted in a huge range of benefits for the young people involved.
From a social aspect young people were able to meet virtually with other young people who were keen to take part in activities to support their health and wellbeing throughout lockdown. The enthusiasm and commitment from the young people made the virtual club a really positive place to be during a time of uncertainty.
Educationally and personally, young people learnt about the 5 ways to wellbeing and provided young people with the tools to support their own wellbeing throughout lockdown. One young person feedback at the end that the sessions:
‘During lockdown it made me see people, laugh and I learnt a lot about life’
Parents provided really positive feedback to the programme, one parent noted this was ‘exactly’ what her child needed as she was becoming increasingly concerned about how much time her child was spending alone in the bedroom and how little exercise her child was doing throughout lockdown.
The virtual sessions were a new way of working for the service. We had to learn how to engage with young people virtually, how to provide a fun and engaging session, while still giving the same support as we would if we were meeting in person. While this was very challenging, having to learn to adapt our service without compromising our standards has greatly benefited us as staff and the service. We can now offer virtual sessions which educate and encourage young people to invest time in their wellbeing. While we are returning to face to face sessions, the virtual sessions remain an important part of our provision.
Due to the success of the project, we have implemented a workout as part of our staff wellbeing program. Providing weekly online fitness classes that encourage time away from laptops during the day and remind staff to invest time in their own wellbeing.
The main themes for this project was to support young people’s mental health and wellbeing through physical activity and learning. Completing activities stemming from the 5 ways to wellbeing allowed us to deliver a wide variety of sessions to raise young people’s awareness of different topics. For example to promote equality and diversity one week we learnt how to sign language, whilst another week we celebrated neurodiversity week. Participating in the sessions we had Welsh and non-Welsh speakers therefore the sessions were delivered bilingually allowing young people to communicate through their chosen language. We also ensured the physical exercises were adaptable making it accessible and inclusive for all abilities. Finally the sessions were young person led, each week they would choose which strand they would like to learn more about and share their ideas as to what activities we could do.
As we now continue to plan and deliver more face to face provisions for young people, the online delivery method has taken a side step. However, the relationships we have built have allowed us to maintain so many positive links with young people and given them the confidence to attend our community and targeted face to face sessions. We can also revert to our online sessions when the weather is too terrible.
For further information please view:
Monday Motivation Facebook video channel
Facebook – Monday Motivation flyer English
Facebook – Monday Motivation flyer Welsh
5 ways to wellbeing bingo Facebook
Wellbeing videos Facebook