Helping local young people improve their fitness, mental health and wellbeing
24 June 2021
Central YMCA has partnered with KCBNA, a local community organisation based in Kings Cross. We are working with KCBNA's Youth Services to provide access to facilities to deliver Project Active for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people. Project Active helps young people aged 12 to 19, who are unmotivated and physically inactive to improve their fitness, mental health, wellbeing and confidence in a safe and secure environment.
Remon, one of the participants said about his experience: "Project Active has allowed me to regain my fitness and better my physical health. It’s also impacted my mental health in a positive way because it gives me something to do and socialise with fellow gym buddies which was especially needed after spending a few difficult months in lockdown."
The young people who use the youth service are primarily from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities and 80% fall into one or more of the following categories:
- parents are on welfare benefits
- live in overcrowded households
- low educational attainment
- lack of confidence in future prospects
- at risk of getting involved in low level crime
Gym sessions at Central YMCA Club
Project Active participants have weekly access to Central YMCA Club and to gym sessions with trained fitness instructors such as Personal Trainer, Taz Ahmed and Central YMCA's Children and Young People Manager, Muminur Jalil. The instructors work closely with the young people to encourage them to diversify their approach to physical activity and healthy living. Exercise sessions span a wide variety of activities including aerobics, weightlifting, skipping and long-distance running as well as mental wellbeing workshops.
“The project engages young people who simply cannot afford to pay for a gym membership, giving them a positive healthy alternative to negative influences around them. We have seen notable change in young people’s confidence and attitudes towards their mental health and physical fitness.” - Muminur Jalil, Central YMCA
"As kids enter their teen years, they might lose interest in physical activity. Between school, homework, friends, and even part-time jobs, they're juggling a lot of interests and responsibilities. Regular physical activity can help young people maintain a healthy weight and prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other medical problems later in life. This project helps young people feel more energetic, improve focus and attention, and promote a better outlook." - Taz Ahmed, Project Active Personal Trainer (Tfitnesspt)
Healthy cooking workshops
The project also incorporates regular healthy cooking sessions, giving young people the opportunity to engage in food preparation whilst learning the nutritional value of food and the importance of a balanced diet for long-term physical health and mental wellbeing. For many of the participants, fast food and fizzy drinks were seen as a quick and cheap option, but feedback from the young people and their parents has shown that they are taking their knowledge home, becoming more health conscious and helping to prepare meals for the family.
The impact of Covid-19
Projects like this are essential for young people now more than ever as research has shown the Covid-19 pandemic has had a heavy impact in young people’s mental health and physical wellbeing and the effects of this will be felt for many months to come.
How to join
Project Active meets at Central YMCA Club every Wednesday from 6-9pm. If you would like to join the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org