Sunday 24 March 2013

Creating Chances: QPR scheme cooks up a storm

A healthy-eating scheme run by QPR is looked at in the latest Creating Chances report

QPR defender Christopher Samba visits St Stephen’s Primary School, Shepherds Bush

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The Creating Chances 2012 report outlines the work the Premier League and the clubs do at the heart of their communities. One story focuses on a healthy-eating project run by Queens Park Rangers.

QPR in the Community Trust successfully applied to the PLPFA Community Fund to develop the QPR Health Stars project in North Hammersmith and Fulham.

"QPR Health Stars is delivering life skills and healthy-eating experiences"
Adam McLachlan

The grant has been supported by the Inner North West London Primary Care Trust to offer nutritional education, promotion of physical activity, oral hygiene and anti-smoking initiatives to pupils and local residents.

Recently,  Year 4 pupils at St Stephen’s Primary School, Shepherds Bush, received a visit from defender Christopher Samba to celebrate the culmination of six weeks of between the school and QPR Health Stars. Samba revealed his eating and training habits, his favourite things to do outside of football and, most importantly, the ingredients needed to maintain a healthy diet.

“Having a good diet, watching your nutrition, not smoking and keeping kids interested in sport is all very important," Samba said.

The PLPFA Community Fund grant has enabled the Trust to employ a full-time health officer in Adam McLachlan. He takes up the story since the project began in September.

"Health inequalities are rife in Hammersmith and Fulham, particularly the areas of White City and Wormholt. That childhood obesity is higher than the national average is no great surprise: a lot of the kids live on estates in small flats with big families.

"In high-rise buildings many don’t have dining room tables and eating habits can sometimes leave a lot to be desired - we found at least half of the kids were having only one or two bits of fruit and vegetables a week.

Pupils from Wormholt Primary School proudly display their freshly-cooked food

"QPR Health Stars is about trying to change attitudes and already we’ve had great success working with Year 4-6 pupils in Wormholt Primary School. We're being inventive on food attitudes: instead of thinking it comes from the fried chicken shop we’ve been working with a local community garden association to set pupils and their families up with growing boxes that they can use on their balconies to grow tomatoes and herbs.

"We ran a six-week programme where the pupils learnt something new about food and nutrition each week. So the first week was hygiene, kitchen safety and safe chopping techniques, so they cut up fruit that they might not have eaten previously.

"The second was showing them how to make fruit smoothies instead of milkshakes and fizzy drinks and why it was good for them. The following weeks it was soups, pasta bakes and puddings.

"In the final week we got the children to make a menu based on what they'd done and sent a letter to parents inviting them to a three-course meal in the school dining hall. We split the kids into three groups: one made the starter of tomato and basil soup, another made the main of a vegetable pasta bake and homemade garlic bread, and the final group made a dessert of a healthy apple crumble.

"We got the children to act as waiters and serve up the food that each other made. So rather than take ownership they did it collectively as a team. We've had teachers and parents amazed at the difference this has made to some children, in terms of how co-operative they are. So QPR Health Stars is doing what we said we would, delivering life skills and healthy eating experiences."

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Key Points

  • The latest Creating Chances report looks at a healthy-eating scheme run by QPR
  • The initiative teaches skills such as nutrition and kitchen safety
  • Health officer Adam McLachlan explains how the programme works