Healthy Goals: Growth and confidence for babies, toddlers and parents

Healthy Goals: Growth and confidence for babies, toddlers and parents Image

Since 2010, the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association’s Community Fund has enabled clubs across England and Wales to develop and deliver community programmes that are tailored to needs in their local area.

This includes our Healthy Goals programme for 0-4 year-olds, which has an incredible impact in Wolverhampton.

Becoming a new parent is not easy. Trying to get to grips with feeding, bedtimes and medical concerns, all while being sleep deprived, can be an overwhelming experience.

Since 2020, the Wolves Foundation has used the PL/PFA Community Fund, and funding from Wolverhampton Council, to provide free support and guidance for parents through their Healthy Goals programme.

“It was about supporting the healthy growth of children in Wolverhampton,” says Wolves Foundation senior health officer Jade Sutton.

“Our main focus was physical activity and healthy lifestyles but as the pandemic delayed a lot of the initial delivery, there was also another focus around how lockdown had impacted children’s personal, social and emotional development.

“We know how important experiences are in the early years and how much they can go on to shape the rest of a child’s life. The first 1000 days is meant to be the critical period.

“It’s about working with parents to develop healthy habits early on and to be there for them, because it is hard.”

Healthy Goals is open to all and delivers welcoming activity sessions and informal information workshops for parents and carers to bring their young ones.

As well as being a safe space to play, relax and meet others, Healthy Goals also provides information and guidance on subjects such as breastfeeding, making a healthy meal, weaning or first-aid.

The project has enjoyed visits from Wolves stars Jose Sa, Mario Lemina and Wolves Women’s Helen Dermody in recent years.

And most recently it was stopper Dan Bentley who walked through the doors to join in activities on Pancake Day, trying out some healthy toppings with the toddlers.

“If you can get families to change habits or just feel more confident in their own abilities to do different things, that’s really important,” Jade says.

“I’m proud to see how the programme has grown from when I started four years ago, from engaging with a couple of people every week to the hundreds we have now.

“There’s been probably about four or five children now that have taken their first steps at our sessions; watching things like that just is amazing. I love being a part of their journey. It’s nice to help lay the foundations.

“I’m really pleased to be part of something that is shaping those early experiences and working with some people now before their child is even born.

“We had one parent who was very shy when she first arrived and now, she’s coming every week, offering to help, making people teas and providing resources if she thinks it might be useful. Seeing the change in the parents as well is brilliant.”

Helen has been a part of Healthy Goals since 2022, starting at the group when her daughter Mila was 11 months old.

“All areas of Mila’s development are supported,” Helen says. “We both love coming to the sessions, it gives us both a set routine. I like that other things are offered like dance classes, pumpkin picking and seasonal activities.

“My happiest memories are watching Mila develop through all of the activities and resources. Mila has learnt how to interact and develop lovely friendships with children her own age which is heartwarming.

“She is able to socialise and learn new skills that she cannot learn playing on her own, like sharing and making friends.”

Mila is not the only one who has benefitted from Healthy Goals.

For Helen, the programme has provided her and the other parents with an “invaluable” support network.

“I have made so many new friends as a result of the project,” she says.

“We arrange days out with our babies. We go to each other’s houses to get the kids together and enjoy a coffee and a chat. As a group, we share advice, guidance and top tips.

“Being around other parents of children of similar ages is helpful as we are dealing with the same challenges and milestones together. Healthy Goals has helped me navigate motherhood.”

This story was captured as part of a Premier League Charitable Fund and Goal Click collaboration to showcase the impact of the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association Community Fund.

"Of course it’s so important to give back to the community and Wolverhampton as a whole. It's great to be here and to show our support."

Maximilian Kilman | Wolves Captain and Foundation Ambassador

"As a lifelong Wolves fan, to represent the Club and Foundation is something I'll cherish forever."

Daz James | Wolves Disability FC

"Without Wolves Foundation I wouldn't be here today, that's for certain."

John Martin | Head 4 Health participant

"It is amazing to be out there meeting people and having some fun. It is really important for Wolves to have this connection with the fans and to see the happiness in their faces."

Toti Gomes | Wolves Defender

"Savannah absolutely loves the group. The staff are committed to making every single session fun and welcoming."

Natasha | Healthy Goals parent

"It’s special because it's my club and I’m so proud to be from Wolves as well. I can see the projects and all the work Wolves Foundation are doing and I know it makes such an impact, so to even be a little part of that and to help out where I can – it's so exciting."

Amber Sandhu | Broadcaster and Foundation Ambassador

"It’s huge for the school, I can’t speak highly enough of Wolves Foundation and the opportunities that they give us."

Mr Robinson | Woodsetton School

“I think all football clubs should be the beating heart of their communities and Wolves, through the Foundation, manages to do that."

Johnny Phillips | Sky Sports Presenter and Foundation Ambassador

"We get loads of different opportunities with a Premier League club. I feel really privileged to be a part of it."

Mustafa | Football & Education College Academy student

"Frank has Alzheimer’s Disease and when he was first diagnosed we felt lost and alone. Attending Molineux Memories is a lifeline for both of us; it is run by friendly, committed staff who ensure that everyone is included and enjoys themselves."

Frank and Alison | Molineux Memories

"To come here and be hands on with the kids is unreal. Working with Wolves and the Foundation is a blessing and I'm honoured. It feels surreal sometimes but it's the best feeling."

S-X | Music Producer and Foundation Ambassador

"It's good to give back what you got. Football and the Wolves Foundation help me, so I like to help the community."

Taye | Premier League Kicks

"Wolves is a fantastic football club, and they’re excelling off the pitch as well with all the brilliant community work that the Foundation does. The passion of the coaches and the opportunities to play are amazing."

Jack Rutter | Former Great Britain Paralympian and Foundation Ambassador

"Wolves has definitely helped my personal development, but now also helps me to develop people I work with. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunities Wolves Foundation have given me."

Carl Ackasovs | Wolves Foundation

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