Creggan’s Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre announced on Friday its been awarded £150,000 by the STOP Consortium – a Horizon 2020 (addressing childhood obesity in Europe) to fund an innovative new project aimed at tackling childhood obesity in the Creggan community
In addition to the funding, the OLT will benefit from the support of two Knowledge and Innovation Communities of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Health and EIT Food). Additionally, the STOP Consortium will provide in-kind support and opportunities from project partners, to help them succeed in their project.
Combining knowledge, technology and the community
The Old Library Trust has chosen Derry-based health tech innovation company Elemental to enhance the success of their existing SWEET project, a family-centred obesity prevention and management programme. They will also build and deliver a new app that educates parents on healthier lifestyles for children and instantly creates connections to services and programmes within the community. The app will be supported by Elemental’s award-winning social prescribing technology.
Speaking at Friday’s announcement and launch, George McGowan, Project Director, OLT said: “We’re really excited about working with Elemental on this project and combining all the best bits of two already established models. The SWEET programme has been a huge success to date, thanks to financial support by the Public Health Agency, and the Elemental platform is already leading the way as an innovative solution designed to reduce health inequalities. Their already established functionality will give us the ability to provide a complete wraparound solution to members of the Creggan community and compliment the learning gained throughout their journey on the new app. Not only that, but Elemental’s platform will allow us to drive person-centred care by giving anyone the ability to refer themselves into local community activities and interventions.”
“I would like to thank the strategic team that helped to get this over the line and look forward to working with them all in the months ahead. This really is a unique opportunity and something we all should be proud of.”
Research shows that there is a correlation between deprivation and obesity, with higher levels of childhood obesity occurring in areas where children come from low-income backgrounds. Studies also show that children aged five and up from the poorest income groups are twice as likely to be obese compared to their more advantaged counterparts and by age 11, are three times as likely to become obese.
As obesity in young people is an important predictor of obesity in adulthood, the OLT and Elemental are developing an app targeted at educating and informing families in the Creggan Estate with children under five years of age – where levels of overweight and obesity are some of the highest in the UK.
Also commenting on Friday’s launch, Serena Terry, COO, Elemental said: “This is a really exciting project for us that has huge transferable potential. Elemental’s roots are firmly embedded in the communities that benefit from our social prescribing technology, so to get the opportunity to combine the capabilities of our platform with the success of the SWEET programme and create an innovative new app is an incredible opportunity for us. Especially as we’ll be working closely with the incredible team at the OLT and residents from our own hometown.”
Introducing the SWEET App
The easy-to-use and interactive SWEET app will be designed to deliver bite-sized, gamified educational content to parents with children under the age of five and will be delivered on a pilot basis to families in the Creggan area of Derry over the next year.
Not only will parents gain knowledge around healthier lifestyles for their children, but they will have the ability to browse and to refer themselves and their children into locally based community assets (programmes, services, events, etc.) focused on obesity prevention and physical activity.
The SWEET app will be a mobile spin-off from the hugely successful SWEET programme (Safe, Well-being, Eating & Exercising Together) a family-based childhood obesity prevention and management programme that adopts a community development approach, working in the heart of local communities across the Western Health and Social Care Trust area.
Julie White, SWEET Programme Manager, The Old Library Trust HLC explained the aim of the app and its benefits, commenting: “The aim of the app is to help parents gain the confidence, knowledge and skills they need to help their family adopt a healthier, happier lifestyle and to give their children a great start in life. This mobile app will become a real-time resource that helps parents address potential childhood obesity with a fun, gamified, multimedia experience, which helps them set goals and actions for their children. We’re very grateful to the entire STOP consortium for their support to date and we’re really excited about getting started and being able to make a real impact on tackling obesity within the Creggan community, right across the city and district as a whole and scaling this in a wider European context.”