'Healthy Goals has helped me navigate motherhood'

21 Feb 2024
Wolves Foundation, Healthy Goals, v1

Find out how the Wolves Foundation programme has given confidence and a support network to young children and their parents

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PL PFA Community Fund

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.

Here, we take a look at the incredible impact of some of these programmes.

Healthy Goals (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

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.

But in Wolverhampton, help is at hand. 

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.

"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. 

Wolves Foundation, Healthy Goals, v2

"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."

Wolves Foundation, Healthy Goals v3

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.

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