Children at a Dorset primary school had a surprise visit from professional footballers under a health and wellbeing campaign supported by property finance specialist MSP Capital.
AFC Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook and ex-forward and club legend Steve Fletcher dropped into Epiphany School in Muscliff, Bournemouth, as part of the Healthy Lifestyles initiative.
They joined Steve Cuss, the club’s Head of Community, who was leading the latest of 76 sessions he has given at Dorset schools since the campaign began in September 2022.
Healthy Lifestyles encourages pupils to aim for good health and wellbeing through an understanding of the benefits of a balanced diet, regular exercise, a good night’s sleep and maintaining hydration levels.
MSP Capital, official training wear partner for the Cherries, has partnered with the club’s Community Sports Trust to deliver the campaign which has engaged more than 4,100 children.
Using the Eatwell Plate pictorial summary of the main food groups, pupils learn about nutrients, minerals, vitamins and recommended proportions of food.
They complete workshop tasks such as designing healthy meals for AFC Bournemouth players, linking to the different times of a match day.
Steve Cuss said: “The Healthy Lifestyles project is really important and is now embedded in the schoolwork that we deliver. In partnership with MSP Capital, we’re able to go out and work in lots of different schools and deliver the workshop, which touches on a number of different aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Having a Premier League footballer here, like Lewis Cook, allows us to ask questions about how he looks after himself off the field, even areas like sleep and relaxation, so it was really beneficial for the kids.”
Phil Jenkins, a teacher at Epiphany School, said: “The afternoon was really engaging and informative for the children. The information was shared clearly by all the lead adults and the visit from Lewis Cook and Steve Fletcher made the event even more special. The children loved the opportunity to work with AFC Bournemouth and came back to class buzzing afterwards. We are now going to build on this and complete more healthy lifestyle activities with our year group.”
Chris Wright, MSP Capital’s Associate Director of Valuation, who was also on the visit, said: “Watching the session it was obvious that there will be a long-lasting impact on the children involved and their awareness of how important their health is.
“It’s moments like this that make us really appreciate our partnership with the club, when we can get involved with community projects and help future generations live better lives.”
The Healthy Lifestyles campaign comes amid growing concern over the diet and health of children. A government report released in February 2023 found that ten and eleven-year-olds have consistently been more likely to be obese than pupils of reception age.
And the NHS has published new figures showing higher rates of obesity among Year 6s than before the pandemic.
As well as the focus on schools, MSP Capital welcomed Lewis Cook and Steve Fletcher for a one-off health workshop in the staff gym at the firm’s Poole Quay head office.
Five colleagues were put through their paces in a session led by AFC Bournemouth’s Head of Performance Alastair Harris alongside first team sports scientist Rob Lloyd.
The hour-and-a-half workout featured some of the vigorous training exercises that the men’s first team do to keep them in top condition for the pitch.
Alongside the workshop, staff received healthy snacks and nutritional recipe books.
Lewis Cook, who is player ambassador for Healthy Lifestyles, said: “They’ve got a great gym here so we were able to provide an insight of what our week is like in order to prepare the lads and I for a game on the weekend. They’ve been really good and they looked like they enjoyed it.
“They had some very strong people. They were great people, first and foremost, and we’ve had a great time with lots of laughs, which is what it’s all about to be honest. When you have those chances to do these sessions during the week, it’s enjoyable.”
Chris Wright added: “They certainly put everyone through a demanding workout and it was well worth it. We champion our team’s mental and physical health at the forefront of our culture and so it’s a natural fit for us to get involved with the Healthy Lifestyles campaign.”