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Colin Jackson, CBE opening New Outdoor Gym

Colin Jackson, CBE opens New Outdoor Gym at Church Crookham Junior School, Hampshire

EDUCATION

“You’re working all different muscles and you wouldn’t even know it, it’s great!” Colin Jackson, CBE

Various images of Colin Jackson opening outdoor gym at local junior school

The Background

When Church Crookham Juniors raised the funds to install a brand-new Fresh Air Fitness outdoor gym at their school, they never imagined they would have Colin Jackson CBE opening the gym for them on launch day.

Having seen the impact of lockdown, Church Crookham Junior School wanted to support pupils to improve their fitness levels and mental health. “We initially considered having the outdoor gym equipment installed at Church Crookham Junior School, as we were thinking about strategies to improve children’s fitness when returning from lockdown. We want all of our children to lead a healthy and active lifestyle and for them to understand the benefits and importance of physical activity. It is also about making exercise fun and enjoyable for all children, promoting positive attitudes towards physical activity.” Miss Meek, Headteacher.

After an initial consultation, the school chose to work with Fresh Air Fitness. “We chose to work with Fresh Air Fitness as they were friendly, helpful and enthusiastic about the opportunities that the equipment offers for schools” Miss Meek. You can imagine the school's surprise and delight when Fresh Air suggested they invite one of the most heavily decorated athletes in British history to attend the grand opening!

The Challenge

The school had an area within its grounds that was unusable for most of the year due to heavy water logging. They wanted to recover this space and locate the gym here. It was critical that the area would not become waterlogged post installation, enabling pupils to use the new outdoor gym all year round.

Ultimately, the school wanted to use their new outdoor gym for PE lessons and during play time, to encourage more physical activity through the day. They located the gym at the edge of the playground, to achieve both.

The Solution

The area received a complete transformation. Firstly excavated and replaced with a strong stone sub-base. This elevated the ground to ensure water wouldn’t pool around the equipment. This base was covered with a rubber mulch, a popular safety surface that provides a non-slip natural looking floor that is also permeable to allow rainwater to drain through.

The ever popular Children’s Bumper Package, a 6-piece, 15-person outdoor gym was installed. Full of multi-user pieces, children can use the gym and interact with each other at the same time, promoting fun and enjoyment, encouraging all children to take part, from the sportiest to those who shy away from physical activity.

“The children really enjoyed watching the process of the equipment being installed at the bottom of our playground and they were ever so keen to get on it once it was up and running. The outdoor gym equipment offers a range of activities for the children to get fit and active. This has been especially important for the children returning back to school after lockdown and it helps us as a school to promote fitness and physical activity. Children are keen, enthusiastic and are showing that they are beginning to understand how the equipment can target different parts of their body to increase their fitness.” Miss West, PE Coordinator

Lesson planners, instruction manuals and links to online resources were also provided to support teaching staff and children. “I have been able to have a look at the resources provided by Fresh Air Fitness and can see many activities that would be excellent to use as warm ups and cool downs, extra activities in PE lessons, as well as teaching the children activities that they can then recall at break and lunchtimes.” Miss West, PE Coordinator

The Grand Opening

The children didn't need an excuse to get on the outdoor gym, but when Colin Jackson, CBE arrived on the morning of the launch, the atmosphere was electric. Following a wonderfully uplifting assembly for pupils, Colin declared the outdoor gym open! The children jumped straight onto the gym and Colin even had a go himself, explaining to them “You’re working all different muscles and you wouldn’t even know it, it’s great!”

Tom Willock, MD at Fresh Air Fitness said: "With Colin attending the event, he made the launch extra special by answering all of their questions and showing them his large collection of medals. Colin Jackson CBE is a living example of what the children can achieve if they exercise, stay healthy and always try their best. His visit created long lasting memories for all pupils and staff and provided an amazing return to school experience after a very challenging past year.

Several children can use the equipment at the same time, allowing them to enjoy being active with their friends. In particular, children who sometimes shy away from physical activity are eager to join in too. We can already see the benefits that this new equipment has brought to our school.

MISS BATEMAN, DEPUTY HEAD TEACHER

I am so pleased that we decided to choose outdoor gym equipment at Church Crookham Junior School. We all know how important it is for our children to lead a fit and active lifestyle and we really want to promote physical activity for all children. What a better way to do it then introduce some new fitness equipment to our site.

MISS WEST, PE COORDINATOR

We would recommend Fresh Air Fitness to schools that are hoping to find new initiatives to encourage and promote physical activity for all children in a fun and exciting way

MISS WEST, PE COORDINATOR

We are pleased that all of our children have reacted positively to the introduction of the new equipment and are keen and eager to get on it whenever they can. We know that physical activity and being active can really help children with their focus and engagement in lessons. It has also allowed some children who find focus in lessons tricky, the opportunity to come back to class refreshed and ready to learn after releasing their energy outside on the equipment.

MISS BATEMAN, DEPUTY HEAD TEACHER

The Benefits

  • This gender neutral outdoor gym equipment promotes PE in a fun yet challenging format, encouraging all children to take part, from the sportiest to those who often shy away from sport. “Children who sometimes shy away from physical activity are eager to join in too.” Miss Bateman, Deputy Head Teacher
  • The facility also promotes better focus and attention in class. “It has allowed some children who find focus in lessons tricky, the opportunity to come back to class refreshed and ready to learn after releasing their energy outside on the equipment.” Miss Bateman, Deputy Head Teacher
  • 15 children can use the outdoor gym at once, while bespoke lesson planners support teaching staff to run PE sessions for a full class of 30.
  • The gym can be used all year round for PE lessons, general play and for afterschool clubs.
  • “We are hoping to use the gym equipment for warm-ups and cool-downs in our PE sessions, as well as part of our daily mile sessions as another way to keep active. It is another part of our toolkit to promote a healthy lifestyle for all of our children”. Miss West, PE Coordinator
  • The outdoor gym will improve fitness levels, build strength and stamina, and boost self esteem, supporting good mental health.

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