If you have been following our journey over the last number of years you will know that we have developed a very successful physical activity, nutrition, health and lifestyle programme for adults of all ages called True Transformation. Dr Diane Cooper created this programme based on the outcome of her PhD in weight loss and health, the lessons learned from her continued research in the areas of weight loss and health, and also her 15 years of experience working with clients in our True Fitness health and weight loss clinic. To date we have worked with hundreds of adults and helped them to transform their lives. More recently we have decided to use our knowledge and skills to create very specific health and lifestyle programmes for the younger members of our community. So, we are very excited to say that we have now officially launched our True Transformation for Kids and True Transformation for Teens programmes!!
Our first 6-week True Transformation for Kids programme was held in a Portlaoise school in January and February 2018. We were delighted to work with two amazing groups of kids during this time. So, firstly we would like to say a gigantic thank you to these kids and their support team. You have all made the last 6 weeks very exciting and enjoyable for us, we hope you have enjoyed the programme as much as we have and we have loved working with you all, you are all amazing!
Importantly, we would also like to say a huge thank you to Laois Sports Partnership who have funded this journey over the last 3 years and continue to do so with these youth programmes. This work could not take place without their support and we have been able to help so many lives because of it.
Why did we develop True Transformation for Kids?
It is a physical activity and health programme for kids aged 9-12.The current programme was designed for kids who do not take part in sport and have no desire to do so. Physical activity is so important for children and they are recommended to take part in 60 minutes per day to keep their bones, muscles, heart, bodies and minds healthy as they grow. This recommendation is based on sound scientific evidence and it is needed to achieve all of these health benefits. These benefits are an important recognised consequence of playing sport but what about the kids who do not play sport?? It is very important to be aware that these health benefits can also be achieved by taking part in simple and fun physical activities. We recognise that there are a lot of kids in our community who do not play sport for a variety of reasons, so we wanted to offer them an alternative.
What is True Transformation for Kids?
It is a 6-week programme where we work with the kids twice per week for the 6 week period and each session in 60 minutes in duration. The overall purpose of the programme is to develop essential fundamental movement skills such as jumping, catching, agility, balance and co-ordination, but not in a sporting context. We do this through games and play.
Each 1 hour session was composed of;
- Aerobic and dynamic warm-up in the form of a fun mini game
- Team work ice-breaker game
- Fundamental movement drill
- Conditioned game incorporating the fundamental movement (based on session focus)
- Mini game incorporating agility, balance, co-ordination, peed.
- Balance, stretching and breathing exercises in the form of a cool down.
The Warm-ups we used were always fun games which incorporated dynamic movements and initiated a fun environment. We included the ABC’s into fun mini games for the kids, the ABC’s were most commonly applied through specifically designed obstacle courses which aim to challenge and enhance each component.
Each session generally focused on one particular functional movement, such as, running, jumping, catching, and throwing per session. This allowed us to design fun, yet focused, games and activities surrounding the specific movement.
In addition to us designing the sessions in this way, we also focus on teaching the kids exactly what we are doing and why. We also incorporate a number of nutrition related games into the sessions to help focus on this component.
What is physical literacy?
In addition to us focusing on kids who don’t play sport, the type of model we are applying in our True Transformation programme can also benefits kids who do play sport.
Physical literacy (PL) is basically a fundamental and extremely valuable capability that all individuals should possess in order to have the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to accomplish and recognise physical activity as an important part of their lifestyle. It is therefore impeccable within physical activity structure to highlight the importance of PL attainment. This is why we focus our kids’ sessions on PL attainment.
What is Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD)?
The Long Term Athlete Development Model (Balyi, 2003) considers phases of motor, physical and mental development and is used to structure the sessions for the kids.
This model considers phases of childhood and the importance of PL and therefore begins at the fundamental phase. The model then progresses to learning to train, training to train, training to compete, training to win and finally, stage six which is retirement/retainment. (Balyi, 2003) Find out more about LTAD here; https://www.oxspa.co.uk/uploads/long-term-athlete-development-article.pdf
The best way to describe the importance of LTAD , is to relate the LTAD model to a model of education. Basically a child progresses in education from pre-school all the way to college, this is due to fundamental knowledge being applied at the beginning and all through their childhood in stages to form the bases or building blocks of their knowledge and intellect, then they progress into higher education to further develop their intellectual skills and knowledge, without the bases of knowledge or teachings, progression to higher modes of education would not be possible. Physical activity is very similar as it is intended to be applied in the same way; children need to learn fundamental movements and progress through stages or phases in order to excel in activities of daily living, fundamental movements, specialised movements, sports and to lead a long active lifestyle.
It is important to be aware of the phases and stages of training that are appropriate for kids because we often see the negative consequences that are associated with neglecting these physical developmental stages. This is particularly evident in kids who are very good at sport and are playing on a number of different teams and competing with high frequency.
Consistent intensive activity at early periods of development has been linked to several negative physical and mental outcomes (Baker et al, 2009), such as; osteocondrosis, inging-Larson-Johansson syndrome (Dalton, 1992 cited in Baker, 2009), injuries and illness, reduction of rate of maturation (Caine, 2001 cited in Baker 2009), a deceased sport enjoyment (Boyd and Yin, 1996 cited in Baker et al, 2009), social development, possibility of dropout of activity and sport, eating disorders and burnout (Gelfand and Hartman, 1982 cited in Baker et al, 2009).
A child, like an adult, must be trained with the type, volume and intensity of physical activity that is appropriate for them. The positive outcomes associated with th application of the LTAP model within TT for Kids is an increase of overall health, a decrease in overall injury throughout childhood, an increase in intrinsic motivation and positive emotional affiliation with physical activity, an increase of anaerobic and speed development due to the consumption of the windows of opportunity that occur at specific ages, and an increase in self-confidence.