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Mini Mover Programme

The Mini Movers programme is one of the conduits within the local Detecting Cancer Early activities and promotes the links between being physically active and the reduction of the risk of certain cancers within the early years setting.

***PAHA Award Winner 2014***

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How It Started

The partnership between NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd considered the fact that risk factors other than family history often play a more important role in the development of cancer and it is estimated that 3,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year by adopting an active lifestyle and that reports suggest that up to 40% of cancers in the UK could be prevented by lifestyle changes.

This gave rise to partnership discussions on providing an innovative early years intervention which would raise awareness of the link between physical activity and preventing certain cancers and take a holistic approach to promoting these healthier lifestyles choices from an early age.

The principal aim of the Mini Movers programme is to improve health and well-being outcomes for local pre-school children which accolades with the Early Years Framework where the focus is on improving outcomes for children through change in the way in which policy and practice are developed and delivered. This re-assured partners that pre-school establishments were an influential setting to raise awareness of the links between physical activity and preventing certain cancers by implementing a physical activity and healthy lifestyle interactive programme targeting early years and families.

Partners Involved

The Mini Movers programme is a main feature in the partnership steering group that has been established with NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Leisure. This group houses lead strategic decision makers and key players from both organisations and has overall responsibility and commitment for ensuring that joint approaches to health and physical activity programmes are inclusive and address the local health inequalities agenda.

Senior buy in to the programme is evident in organisation leads taking an active role in ensuring the programme had a joint approach and that all leads within the delivery platform were supportive of the programmes outcomes.

The senior decision makers within the steering group ensured that funding was allocated to the programme which then allowed discussions to flourish and a project plan to be established. The senior decision makers understood all dimensions of the project plan and responded to the challenges and opportunities to ensure the success of the programme. The commitment and buy-in at senior level is also evident in current discussions being driven forward to ensure the Mini Movers programme has sustainable development for the next financial year and beyond and that is continues to play an essential part in the physical activity and health building blocks of the early years framework.

North Lanarkshire Leisure manage the programme on a daily basis, however, the success of the programme is due to the partnership of the NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Leisure and the commitment to develop the programme to ensure cohesion within the pre-school health and well-being outcomes that sit within the Curriculum for Excellence.


The Mini Movers programme aims to target and raise awareness to pre-school children and their parents/guardians of the benefits of participating in physical activity and making healthier lifestyle choices to support positive health outcomes. It makes distinctive links to the Detecting Cancer Early initiative and the key messages that this national campaign hopes to promote within communities.

The 6-week programme delivered in local pre-school establishments ensures that the physical activity sessions delivered are tailored to compliment the pre-school curriculum whilst developing the core competency skills required. The programme lessons have been planned to ensure elements of physical activity sessions are interspersed with healthy lifestyle key messages and each session is planned to ensure a fun interactive format that is tailored to all levels of ability to promote an inclusive programme.

The sessions are delivered by North Lanarkshire Leisure’s fully qualified football and dance coaches who have participated in workshops and training programmes delivered by health improvement colleagues to increase their knowledge, skills, competencies to deliver this creative physical activity and healthier lifestyle programme.

Each of the 6 session delivered within the pre-school establishments is themed to specifically target the pre-school children’s fitness, motor skills, concentration and confidence and is evidenced in feedback from pre-school staff who commented that “The programme as it stands is excellent. Super themes children can relate to, well pitched, appropriate length delivered by a highly motivated team of coaches” and a local legacy is evidence with staff commenting that they will “Continue to use ideas in the gym hall” and ““We will incorporate the ball skills into our PE planning.”
The lesson plan accommodates 60 minutes of coaching which is delivered in separate segments to ensure the children’s engagement, interaction and learning is at a pace and level that promotes a fun learning environment.

An essential aspect of the programme was to develop a pathway to engage with parents/ guardians to reinforce the children’s learning and raise awareness of the Detecting Cancer Early initiative which promotes healthier lifestyle choices. A graduation ceremony was the tool used to ensure that parents/guardians received these important key health messages that could support the local health inequalities agenda by encouraging them to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their families.

The programme was initiated through a trial with one of the local pre-school establishments and then offered to all local pre-school establishments with a priority on those within the deprivation data zones.

The Detecting Cancer Early Programme aims to increase the uptake of screening as, the earlier cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat and the outcomes are better. The programme aims to increase screening rates by 25% by 2015 and it is estimated that keeping active could help to prevent more than 3,000 cases of cancer each year in the UK. The Mini Movers programmes aims to be part of the change in local momentum that is hoped will be prevalent over the next two years in terms of increasing screening rates.

The Mini Movers programme has been able to secure funding for a period of two years to establish the programme as an essential part of the early years curriculum across North Lanarkshire and as a model of good practice in its innovative and creative approach to raising awareness of the Detecting Cancer Early initiative by focusing on delivering the key messages within a setting that would not normally be a key driver for this campaign material and mirrors one of the key messages from Equally Well report (2008) which stated for change to happen ‘we need to do different things or do things differently’.

Results and Impact

In the short period from October 2012 to December 2013, the Mini Movers programme has targeted 3,849 pre–school children in North Lanarkshire to increase their levels of physical activity and healthier lifestyle awareness by engaging with a total of 70 local pre-school establishments.

To date, 90% of the pre-school establishments who have participated in the evaluation process have noted that the children are more interested in football and dance, 92% have indicated that the pre-school children have an increased knowledge in healthy eating, 58% highlighted an increased knowledge in sun awareness by the pre-school children and 30% noted an increased knowledge in the pre-school children’s understanding of the key smoking awareness messages.

In addition to the children taking on board the healthy lifestyle information, 85% of the pre-school establishments noted and increase in the pre-school children’s confidence, 52% noted improved concentration and 79% indicated that the children’s skills had increased by participating in the Mini Movers programme.

This activity builds on the good relationships which early years services have already established and has allowed the positive impact of the programme to be identified i.e. “The healthy eating talks were especially beneficial to the children, also the smoking awareness lesson had effects on some of our parents to stop smoking”. The key health improvement messages supporting the Detecting Cancer Early initiative are disseminated to parents/guardians via a Mini Mover graduation bag that the pre-school children receive at the Graduation ceremony in recognition of their achievements in participating in the programme.

Along with the Detecting Cancer Early information leaflet that 80% of parents found of value, 87% indicated they found the healthy eating information contained in their child’s graduation bag useful, 77% found the local mental health and well-being leaflet (Well Connected) helpful and 69% felt the welfare reform leaflet (Feeling the Pinch) was valuable with 65% finding the information on the local smoking cessation service useful. The parents who indicated that they did not find the information of value agave reasons such as they had already been given the leaflet by another service provider or did not smoke.

What's next for the project?

In the short space of time the programme has been up and running, word of mouth on the positive impact and measurable outcomes has resulted in a waiting list of local pre-school establishments wanting to book a 6 week block of the Mini Movers physical activity and healthier lifestyle programme. It is hoped that the compelling commitment of the delivery team and support from senior decision makers will be the essential components used to address this overwhelming response from early year establishments which will involve investigating a means of ensuring the programme can expand at the rate of demand and become part of a local service provision for the early years.

Plans are underway to further fuel the programme with the introduction of full time assistant coaches to further enhance and develop the programme to ensure the outcomes meet the evolving health agenda. As the programme develops it is also hoped to introduce a variety of sports to ensure pre-school children have the opportunity of experiencing the different formats and challenges that each sport brings to the arena at an early age and hopefully encourage long term engagement in the sport of their choice.

To instigate this, the programme now provides each child with a ‘golden ticket’ to allow them to access a free sporting session at a North Lanarkshire Leisure facility to encourage them to sustain an active lifestyle. Over the last 12 weeks, 5% of these ‘golden tickets’ have been utilized within North Lanarkshire Leisure Football Development programme.

The graduation bag also contains information on the activities that North Lanarkshire Leisure provide and 89% of parents indicated that they found this booklet of interest and this will hopefully be an additional tool to encourage parents /guardians and other family members to get active and stay active supporting the ‘Get Active Lanarkshire’ key message of ‘more people, more active, more often’.

The long term vision is that the Mini Movers programme will be one of the local pathways that supports tackling health inequalities by improving physical activity levels and health behaviours of future generations.

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Lead Contact Name

Lesley Mackay


North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd

Phone Number

07903029979 or 01236 442622

Email Address

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