Alice’s adventures to inspire fellow pupils

Alice Motley(11) with trainer Emma Plant at Valley Park School, Sheffield.
Alice Motley(11) with trainer Emma Plant at Valley Park School, Sheffield.
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schoolGIRL Alice Motley is leading by example - after her success on a health and activity programme led to her being nominated as a project mentor, inspiring other young people to follow in her footsteps.

The 11-year-old from Woodseats has shown “exceptional commitment” to the Watch It scheme. It is designed to offer overweight and obese children aged seven to 14 guidance and support to stick to a healthy, balanced diet and take part in more physical activity.

The initiative, run by NHS Sheffield in partnership with Zest community development trust and Activity Sheffield, in turn aims to boost children’s confidence and self-esteem.

Alice, a pupil at Woodseats Primary School, first signed up to the programme last summer after spotting a poster advertising the scheme at their local gym.

Her mum Jill said she and husband Antony were keen to get involved after carrying out some further research as to what it would involve.

“We have always been into eating healthily, but thought perhaps Alice could benefit from a bit of extra support and guidance around exercise and diet,” she said.

“With the onset of becoming a teenager and moving up to Meadowhead School, we thought this could boost her confidence and ensure she was as fit and healthy as she could be. I was keen that it wasn’t seen as a ‘diet’ and that it wasn’t all focused on losing weight - it was more about being healthy and happy and confident.”

The course is run at several locations across the city, with the Motleys opting to attend sessions at Valley Park Clinic, based within Valley Park School, at Gleadless, since this was closest to home.

It works through weekly group activity sessions and interactive one to one sessions with a personal health trainer - in Alice’s case a woman called Emma Plant.

Topics such as the importance of three meals a day, healthy snacks and how to read food packaging correctly are covered in the meetings, before the children take part in sports and games.

The course is free and siblings are also invited along to take part in the activities for just £1. Alice’s younger brother Tom, aged eight, has joined in on some occasions while the rest of the family - which includes older brother Jack, 17 - have also got on board with Alice’s healthy lifestyle.

Jill said: “We were very keen to ensure we never singled Alice out and made her feel like she was on a diet - we have taken the scheme on board as a family.

“We can all do a bit more in terms of the amount of exercise we get or the amount of veg we are eating so we’ve used Watch It as the starting point for us all.”

She said it had been amazing to watch Alice’s progress on the programme.

Jill added how proud she was that her daughter has now been nominated as a Watch It champion who will support newer members to the scheme.

“Alice is a sweet, lovely girl and the progress she has made has really given her confidence a boost,” said Jill, aged 43.

“This programme catches the kids at a key point in their lives before they get stuck in bad habits and I’d certainly recommend it to other parents.

“We’re very proud of the commitment she has shown and it’s been lovely to watch the changes in her. As she approaches adolescence, a time when youngsters often struggle with their body image, it’s done her the power of good to really start feeling good about herself.”

For more information email sheffieldwatch-it@zestcommunity.co.uk or call 0114 2702040 ext 216.