BABIES who are just able to sit up can learn the basics of cooking, as part of an extended programme of activities at Tyneside’s newest swimming pools.

PaddlePod has invested around £700,000 in creating two purpose-built swimming pools with state-of-the-art facilities at Newcastle and North Tyneside, which will open later this year.

And, as part of the company’s programme of activities outside of the water, it has now teamed up with Tiny Tasters to offer children’s cooking sessions at the Gosforth site.

Tiny Tasters was set up by former primary school deputy head teacher, Lyndsay Myhill, who wanted to find a way of introducing children to cooking and enjoying dishes made with fresh, healthy ingredients.

Lyndsay has created fun, interactive sessions where youngsters – some just able to sit up – are introduced to the joys of eating and cooking through storytelling activities.

“People probably think it’s impossible for babies to learn about cooking but the truth is once they’re able to sit up they can make a stirring motion so we can show them how to mix ingredients in a bowl,” she said.

“Early exposure to healthy foods is crucial to develop an appetite for healthy food.

“We’re working with children up to seven and it’s fantastic to see how much they love it and how youngsters who were previously labelled by their parents as fussy eaters will actually embrace new flavours and foods.”

Lyndsay said she was also delighted to be offering the sessions at PaddlePod when it opens.

“PaddlePod is going to be fantastic and I think we’re a perfect fit for the families and children that will go there.”

Phil Groom, director of PaddlePod, said Tiny Tasters would be a welcome addition to the programme of activities and highlighted that the venues were community hubs as well as swimming pools.

“We’ve got some fantastic organisations on board to ensure that anyone visiting one of the pools has a huge choice of additional activities they can be part of,” he said.

“And Tiny Tasters is going to be an incredible way of children from the earliest age being shown that it’s fun to cook and to learn about healthy eating in an engaging way.

“It also perfectly complements our healthy eating ethos in our cafes, where we’ve included fruit and salad on our menus along with ensuring we use products such as free range eggs.”

The PaddlePod pools feature modern changing rooms, a café and a viewing gallery and the Tiny Tasters programme will be part of a full programme of activities to educate and entertain babies, toddlers and children.

Other organisations which will also be running sessions at the new pools include The Well House Therapy, which offers baby massage, postnatal Pilates and pregnancy yoga and Pilates, along with Rhythm Time Newcastle, which will deliver music and sensory classes for babies and toddlers.

Budding ballerinas will also be able to take their first dance steps courtesy of Babyballet, with lessons aimed at children from six months to six years and Tiny Tasters will provide fun and educational cooking classes for youngsters.

At the same time, children will also be able to enjoy messy play and art classes, with sessions provided by ARTventurers North Tyneside.

The two PaddlePod sites – PaddlePod @ Newcastle at Silverbirch Drive, Newcastle  andPaddlePod @ NorthTyneside at New York Road, Shiremoor – are set to open in late November/early December.

Phil, a former swimming coach, set up SwimNE in 2006 for adults and children, followed by Nemo Swimming in 2009 for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers to learn to swim.

Both companies have enjoyed huge success, with more than 2500 children a week taking part in classes across SwimNE and Nemo Swimming.

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