Parkhead Community Primary School in Winlaton, Gateshead, is helping pupils to get active and stay active following the pandemic lockdowns.

The school is opening its doors early every Thursday morning for children to boost their fitness and mental wellbeing by taking part in its ‘Boogie Bounce’ exercise initiative.

The workouts involve exercising to music using mini trampolines and hosted by members of staff and local community members who have undergone specific training paid for by the school as part of the £9,000 grant received from local charity Rise.

The grant was gained through the ‘Opening Schools Facilities project’ and allowed Parkhead to purchase all the equipment required as well as licences and the training element.

Catherine Bulman, business manager at Parkhead Community Primary School, explains: “The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the challenges we face in relation to the mental health and wellbeing of our pupils.

“We know music supports mental health and wellbeing, so by incorporating music with fitness in the form of exercising on trampolines, we can encourage school age children to enjoy physical activity in a fun, supportive and motivating way.”

Paula Bailey, head teacher at Parkhead Community Primary School, stated: “The sessions are proving hugely popular. We’ve had a fantastic response for our breakfast and after school club classes. Importantly, it’s a fully inclusive activity and a big hit with our neuro-diverse and SEND children too. Without the funding from Rise and their belief in what we have set out to achieve, Boogie Bounce would not be possible.”

Claire Lee children & young people development manager, from Rise, said: “This funding is specifically designed to target children and young people hit hardest by Covid-19 in terms of their physical activity levels. We are delighted to see the success of Boogie Bounce at Parkhead Community Primary School.

“It’s an inspiring initiative and a great example of how the Opening Schools Facilities fund is having a direct impact on creating opportunities and community links for children and young people as we transition out of lockdown and beyond. We are also continuing to support the school in opening their facilities to provide Boogie Bounce to parents and the wider community in the future.”

Parkhead Community Primary School has been delivering the Boogie Bounce sessions since October. More than 150 boys and girls aged 5 to 11 participate every week already. The school hopes to offer extra sessions outside term time and during the holidays to make Boogie Bounce classes more available.

Michelle Thompson, Boogie Bounce coach at Parkhead Community Primary School, adds: “The children are so enthusiastic and parents have said they’ve seen a positive impact on confidence and attitudes to learning. Exercise increases endorphins and builds self-esteem. We hope that Boogie Bounce will inspire our young people to develop a passion for physical activity, which will allow them to take responsibility for their health and fitness into adulthood.”

Rise works with communities across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear to improve access to sport and physical activities. It has awarded 36 grants of up to £10,000 through the Opening Schools Facilities scheme. The funding provides support and investment to local schools to increase after-school activities that helps young people to reconnect, recover and return to play after the Covid-19 pandemic.

In May 2021, The Department for Education (DfE) committed £10.1m to help schools in England open their facilities outside of the normal school day. Rise’s role is to provide support and distribute the investment to schools within its Active Partnership area.