“It’s really important for Rory to have found an environment where he can socialise and play with other children. He’s come on leaps and bounds since he started coming to Healthy Goals.”
The words of Rebecca, mother of Rory, one of the many young participants who are continuing to benefit from Wolves Foundation’s Healthy Goals project.
Healthy Goals, for pre-school children and their families, promotes healthy growth through education and activity sessions, and has been funded by the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association with additional investment from the City of Wolverhampton Council.
For Rory, born just before the country went into lockdown due to the pandemic in early 2020, it has proved invaluable.
He attends ‘Stay and Play’ sessions, one of the several different stands to Healthy Goals which also includes activities such as Walk & Talk, Baby Yoga and Mother & Baby exercise.
“We’ve been really grateful for the opportunity for Rory to attend the Stay and Play sessions at Wolves – he absolutely loves it,” Rebecca explains.
“He was born just a few days before the first national lockdown and so a lot of the first year of his life was in isolation, both for him and for us.
“He wasn’t able to see family and friends or go to baby classes or other activities where he’d be able to socialise and meet other people.
“Rory is an only child and only really has an older cousin so it’s really important that we have found an environment where he can socialise and play with other children.”
The ethos of Healthy Goals is not only to provide fun activities for the young children to enjoy, but also spread that healthy message across areas such as eating and exercise.
“The varied activities which Rory can enjoy at Stay and Play are fantastic,” adds Rebecca.
“It’s not just the opportunity to play but also educational play and creative play, activities that will encourage and foster his development.
“It’s also been really useful to reinforce habits such as healthy eating.
“Rory has always been good with eating fruit but for him to be at Healthy Goals and seeing other children eating fruit as well – it reinforces what we are trying to do at home.
“The sessions also increase his understanding of how to do basic things like sharing with other children and understanding the emotion of other children – he’s come on in leaps and bounds since he started with Stay and Play.”
The Stay and Play sessions are among several run at Molineux, but Healthy Goals activities also take place across local community centres, strengthening families’ hubs and nurseries.
“Our sessions focus mainly on physical development but cover all aspects of development including personal, social, emotional and cognitive,” says Jade Sutton, Senior Health Officer with Wolves Foundation.
“Rory has been coming to our Stay and Play sessions for just under a year and it’s nice to see how he has progressed, especially with his confidence.
“When he first started, he would cling to his grandparents but now he’s got his own friends and will just go off and get involved in everything which is lovely to see.”