Step Forward supports mental wellbeing

The wants of students are going to be put front and centre in a new programme to get more students active

The ‘Step Forward’ programme will see Suffolk College working in partnership with Suffolk MIND – the mental health charity –  to support students with mental health issues into sport and activity.

The two-year programme will target students who are inactive and stand to gain the most from doing sport and activity.

Investing in mental wellbeing

We know that it only takes a small amount of regular activity to make a big difference – a brisk walk, a kick around in the park, rediscovering a love of table tennis – especially for those who are least active.

The benefits of sport and physical activity on our mental health are endless: improved mood, decreased chance of depression and anxiety, and a better and more balanced lifestyle.

Our strategy puts tackling inactivity and mental wellbeing at the heart of what we do, and we’re going to triple the amount we invest in helping people to become active.

We’re investing £135,340 of National Lottery funding into ‘Step Forward’ to help more students get active – with a particular focus on the mental wellbeing outcomes.

Putting student wants front and centre

Student involvement is crucial to breaking down the barriers to taking part – and getting input from students is one of the key features of the programme.

By creating student surveys and working with a variety of partners, the wants of students will be placed front and centre to make sure activities suit their needs.

Green spaces will be used for more informal sessions as well as classrooms, where students may feel more confident

As well as identifying new and traditional activities, programme leaders will also think outside the box and look into different types of venues to attract students.

Sports centres can often be a significant barrier for inactive people – so green spaces will be used for more informal sessions as well as classrooms, where students may feel more confident.

Linking activity with the curriculum

Some of the activities on offer will also be linked to the curriculum and course where possible.

Research carried out by the college identified the courses where more students tended to live sedentary lifestyles and had high levels of inactivity. These included courses such as games design, foundation learning and childcare.

Students on these courses will be taught how to do physical activity in a nursery setting or encouraged to take a walk in the countryside alongside the requirements of their course.

Power of technology

Technology will play a big part in 'Step Forward'.

Students will be encouraged to use a variety of technology and apps to help track their activity, find workouts and challenge their friends – all of which can be completed outside of college activities.

Follow up

‘Step Forward’ is one of the 49 new programmes we’re supporting through our Tackling Inactivity in Colleges fund.

Check back in six months for an update on the impact the programme is having and the difference it’s making to the lives and mental wellbeing of young people in Suffolk.