Feeling good about ourselves

By Ronnie Heath, Managing Director

My 91-year-old grandmother very recently introduced me to her new care worker. She clearly is very proud of me, but she did fail to mention that I’m the Managing Director at Create, leading a national team creating positive relationships with physical activity for life. Instead, she did the same introduction she has done for the 44 years of my life I can remember which is, “Here’s our Ronnie, he’s always regular.”

I don’t aim to trivialise this, because in the opinion of my grandmother, this really is the only significant indicator of positive health. Indeed she tells me those who suffer from irregular bowel movements know only too well it is the cause of most of the world’s problems. Poor decision making, a lack of compassion or tolerance, headaches and many physical ailments are the result of constipation according to my grandmother. Nothing can’t be solved with a gentle voluntary laxative or if necessary a covert large dose of involuntary laxative.

I was fortunate enough to watch Natasha Devon give a keynote at the start of July. She speaks passionately and clearly about the incredible impact mental health has on young people. She spoke at length about the how our body image, particularly for girls, affects our whole self and the importance of redefining what ‘strong’ means to boys, including encouraging them to ask for help and developing a willingness to talk about their worries. The thing that resonated with me most though, was the incredibly positive work we can do with all children.

We talk at lot at Create about the fact that ‘some things are simply more important than others’, referring to our deployment of scarce resources for children. However, it also applies to health. At the recent LiveWire conference in Warrington I discussed how the ‘Create Cogs’ provide a great model for a more modern understanding of the many elements that combine and work together to impact on our overall health.

I love the fact at Create, we support teachers to develop children’s personal and social skills. I’m delighted that we can influence the way that coaches speak to young children and how they can praise positive behaviours. Watching parents delight in playing, talking, engaging and learning with their children perhaps above all else reminds us why we do what we do. Ultimately, as we say in describing Learning Nutrition, we are ‘creating habits to develop positive behaviours.’

We are proud of our very deliberate whole child approach for Jasmine. Over time we have simplified our language to ‘developing thinking and emotional skills’ in addition to physical literacy. My sense is that we could go a layer further down and simply say we help children (and loads of big people) to feel good about themselves. Indeed, our delivery and approach are deliberately developed to help the teacher, the grandma, the coach, the dad, the older sister all feel good about themselves. Create has long-term cultural aims, but we directly impact on health everyday.

I think we can do even more, especially for our own staff and especially for those staff who aren’t as regular as me.