Sunday, 30 September 2012

Set4Sport: When Chez Mummy met Judy Murray

Earlier this week there was a glut of media coverage about new research from Oxford University which highlighted that children who are of school-age and obese are at a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack when they grow up compared with children of a normal weight.  Stories about childhood obesity abound, along with the obviously important messages around leading a healthy lifestyle and incorporating exercise into our lives, ideally from a young age.  As a mother, I'm keen to get my children interested in sport to help keep them fit and healthy.  A lot of mothers, I am sure, share this opinion and there's one in particular who is helping families introduce sport in a fun way.

That mum is Judy Murray.  And I'm pretty sure she knows what she's talking about - she's raised one Wimbledon tennis champion (Jamie) and one Olympic gold medallist and US Open champion (Andy) after all.  Judy is passionate about getting children involved in fun, physical activity, to improve fitness and develop hand-eye co-ordination.  She's developed an initiative called Set4Sport to do just this.

I've written about this before, back in July just as this country was getting set for a sporting summer.  Back then I had seen Judy talking about Set4Sport at the BritMums Live blogging conference and afterwards had been able (via email) to ask Judy some specific questions about the initiative.

Yesterday, I was given the chance to meet Judy in person at an exclusive event at London Zoo designed to introduce Set4Sport to a group of parent bloggers and get our children trying out the simple but fun games that have been designed by Judy herself.  It sounded like a lot of fun so yesterday morning, at the crack of dawn (or thereabouts), I hauled Sophia and Dexter from their beds and set off on an exciting adventure to London Zoo. 

When we got there, the room where the event was being held was divided into sections, each with its own toys and equipment to demonstrate different Set4Sport games.  Sophia and Dexter didn't wait for an invitation, they dived straight in.


There were a handful of families who, along with us, were able to try out a variety of Set4Sport games.  They were all set up and the children were shown how to play them by Judy Murray and her team of fitness trainers.  The one we liked best was the 'tidy your room' game where you spread toys around in a circle, put a box in the middle and encourage your child to put all the toys in the box as quickly as possible.  I'll certainly be trying to keep the enthusiasm for that going!

If I'm honest though, we didn't have the best morning but this wasn't because of Set4Sport in any way, but because the children were tired and cranky.  Sophia had spent the past week recovering from an ear infection; it came after a stay at the Alton Towers waterpark and a trip the day before to Legoland Windsor; both children were tired.  Needless to say, they both became fairly grumpy and irritable.  They sat out the last few activities, desperate for lunchtime to arrive.  But, at least it gave Dexter a chance to scrutinise the Set4Sport book, which is filled with games that families can play together.

Judy told me that she devised Set4Sport for children from three-years-old up until the age of eight.  She told me that this is because after the age of eight, children tend to choose for themselves what they want to do whereas before then, it tends to be parents signing their children up to a variety of sports lessons.  It's while children are in this 'sporting experimentation' phase where Set4Sport will work the best.  Personally, I don't think Set4Sport needs to be restricted to this specific age range.  One thing I realised by going along to this event is that while most of the games are slightly too advanced for my 18-month-old son, they can be easily simplified to suit his needs and involve him.

Judy also said that Set4Sport is a great way to get parents spending some good, fun quality time with their children.  That's a win-win situation I'd say.  I left London Zoo that day with a promise in my head to make time to use the Set4Sport book to play some fun games with Sophia and Dexter.  These games use everyday household items and toys and can be set up extremely quickly and easily.  As a video blogger, all I can say is watch out for an inevitable video showcasing our efforts!

If you'd like to find out more about Set4Sport, you can visit the website, or download the app from either the App store (for iPhones, iPads etc.) or Google Play (for android smartphones). Set4Sport's also on Facebook where they have a fantastic 'Wall of Play' where you can share any photographs or videos that you take of you and your children playing Set4Sport games.  And of course, you can follow them on twitter - @Set4Sport.

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