Active Kids Academy

Image courtesy of Lisa Redmond.

By Eoin Meegan

Mental health in the pandemic hits small children too.” So says Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, Gym Manager, Mental Health Activist, Special Needs Assistant and Children’s Fitness Consultant, Lisa Redmond, who runs Active Kids Academy and Stretch-n-Grow Wicklow.
“It’s more than just exercise. The loss of an outdoor life means our children have lost so much more. As we adapt to our new normal and plough our way through lockdown, it’s time to assess the emotional impact that the loss of normality is having on our children.
“Take sport and exercise, for example. It’s not just an hour running around a field or bouncing around a studio. To children around the world it represents a whole lot more.
“For many it’s a safe community, a place to be themselves, socialise with their friends in an inclusive environment and get a break from life.”
After 15 years working with children and young adults in ages ranging from 2 to 18, in a variety of settings; in schools as a Special Needs Assistant, running mental health programmes, building a successful children’s fitness and wellbeing business, running her own sports programmes in preschools, Montessori schools, primary schools and Additional Needs Units, Lisa points out that for children, sport is a vital outlet for emotions and life stresses.
“It gives them a balance and boosts mental health, teaching beneficial coping skills from a young age, helping them develop positive habits to deal with challenging issues. It’s where their endorphins are ignited, sparking happy debris into their lives.”
Even from the age of two we instil positive mental health habits and educate children about how doing little things such as being kind to yourself can make big differences. With years of experience working with children with mental health issues and additional needs, Lisa has seen first hand how beneficial any form of activity or exercise can be for every child.
Under normal circumstances, when we aren’t distancing, Lisa points out that exercise “gives them a sense of belonging. A place where they belong, where they are accepted, where they can excel regardless of ability. It’s who they are and what they do.”
These classes and clubs are vital, especially to children with additional needs and their families. There is already a shortage of services available for children and it is crucial that we ensure that every child has access to a programme which meets their specific needs right now.
A wide range of services has been removed at this time so if we can keep children moving and provide a structured activity programme, the benefits for children and their families will be immeasurable.
“We need to remember that ability is what a child can do. Therefore it is more important than ever that we create an online community and let all children flourish as they gradually adapt to the change and continue to achieve beyond our expectations.” Lisa adds.
But now that COVID-19 has changed everything, the stakes are higher:
“Sport has the power to increase confidence and self-esteem. To teach children to set goals and work to accomplish them. To learn to fail and recover. To build resilience and strong attitudes to carry through life. It’s fun, it’s safe and it’s their own little community. Their club, their class or their place.”
Then add in all of the obvious benefits such as improved health, skill development, increased fitness, better coordination, balance and agility to name but a few.
So what do we do when that is ripped away without warning. How do we explain it to children and how do we fill the void? Luckily, Lisa – with years of working with young people’s mental and physical health issues – can help.
“We can endeavour to develop online communities,” she explains. “We can ensure that we help our children to keep active. An hour a day can be so beneficial. The good news is it doesn’t have to be a continuous hour, you can do it in bursts.
“Also a lot of things that you are probably doing already such as your daily walk, bike rides, playing in the garden and going up and down the stairs fifteen times all count as exercise. So that hour isn’t as daunting as it sounds. In a time when so much is being asked of parents this can sound like another unnecessary burden but it shouldn’t be. Nobody is expecting you to become a PE teacher or coach overnight, you have more than enough to do. Thankfully there is plenty of help available.
“So many businesses like my own have moved online and are offering free support to families. I post a daily video, email workouts and provide Zoom appointments for families to try and bridge this gap.
“We are trying to build an online community, to give back some of those things that the children are missing. We want every child and family to have access to exercise whilst in lockdown but we also want to take the pressure away from parents.”
Lisa is available to talk about how to get our children through these difficult times as well as the challenges facing self-employed people at the moment.
You can contact Lisa at Ph. 0877813980 or by email at: