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New health course starts in Beccles

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 January 2009 | UPDATED: 07:53 01 August 2010

A COURSE aimed at helping people to enjoy a healthier new outlook on life begins at Beccles on January 20.

And it is something recommended by one family after they took part in a specialist exercise and well-being programme and are reaping the benefits.

A COURSE aimed at helping people to enjoy a healthier new outlook on life begins at Beccles on January 20.

And it is something recommended by one family after they took part in a specialist exercise and well-being programme and are reaping the benefits.

Oliver Colvin, from Long Road, Lowestoft, recently graduated from the nine-week MEND course, which teaches young people and their families about healthy eating and exercise.

And the eight-year-old, who attended the twice-weekly sessions with his mum Amanda and younger sister Charlotte (5), said he would encourage other young people in the Waveney area to sign up for the next programme.

“One of the best things about attending the MEND programme is the fun exercise that you get to do every week with Mark and Andy,” said Oliver.

MEND, which stands for “Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!” has been developed by dieticians, child psychologists and children's exercise trainers and is specially tailored for seven to 13-year-olds.

The programme, run by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Community Services, is designed to teach children who are above their ideal weight about a healthy lifestyle in a fun and relaxed environment.

Parents also attend the after-school sessions - and Mrs Colvin said her whole family felt healthier as a result.

“We have all really benefited from going to MEND, and lots of people have commented since on how Oliver has changed,” she said. “He is definitely a lot more confident, and is really proud of what he has achieved, which is lovely to see.

“It was well worth taking part. Everyone was really friendly and the trainers, Abi, Mark and Andy, were absolutely fantastic. I can't praise them enough. They were brilliant with the children and made everything fun for everyone who took part.

“Oliver absolutely loved it, particularly the sports which he tried. He played things like dodgeball, basketball and badminton and thought it was fantastic. I'm really proud of him.

“It was nice from my point of view to go along and meet other parents who were in the same position as myself. Everybody was there for the same reason, which was not necessarily to lose weight but to find out how to be healthy for the future.”

More than 160 children across the area served by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney have already taken part in the free programme, with many saying afterwards that they felt better and their fitness levels had improved. More are now being encouraged to sign up so they can enjoy the same benefits.

“We are looking to enrol people in our next course, which begins on Tuesday, January 20 at Beccles Public Hall,” said Steph Gittins, MEND Programme Manager for NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Community Services.

“We would encourage seven to 13-year-olds who are above their ideal weight, keen to improve their fitness and learn more about healthy food choices to sign up.

“Throughout the programme, we give the children the chance to try lots of fun exercises, and hold cooking sessions and teach them about food labels and sources of fat, sugar and salt. We also tour a local supermarket, giving them the chance to try lots of healthy foods they may not have sampled before.

“It is important to stress that MEND isn't a diet, but is about encouraging the child to become fitter, healthier and happier by giving them the tools to make choices about food and exercise from an early age. Feedback from those who have already completed the programme has told us it benefits them in a huge number of ways, boosting self esteem and giving them the chance to make new friends, choose healthier foods and try new activities and exercises.”

Anyone who would like more information about the free programme, or is interested in taking part in the course, should contact Steph Gittins on 01493 334711.

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