Small changes can have a big impact

February 02 2016

JANUARY is such a difficult time for New Year resolutions, isn’t it? So cold, wet, and dark – let’s cheer ourselves up with a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. Whoops, what happened to healthy living?

Have you kept your New Year Resolutions? If you are struggling, take inspiration from the children of Blackhorse Primary School, who are determined not to give up on their good intentions

JANUARY is such a difficult time for New Year resolutions, isn’t it? So cold, wet, and dark – let’s cheer ourselves up with a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. Whoops, what happened to healthy living?
Eating the right foods and taking exercise are high on the list of lifestyle improvements for pupils at Blackhorse Primary in Emersons Green.
Lots of them have changed their lunchbox contents and are taking up sports, often with their parents.
Head teacher Simon Botten said that when he asked the children about their resolutions, dozens came forward.
“Lots of them are cutting back on sugary drinks and want to do more exercise. The public health messages are obviously getting through,” he said.
“ We are encouraging children to make those small changes that can make a big difference.”
Claire Stone, a governor and parent at the school, who is a nutritionist, has played her part too – giving four simple tips to help families:
Warming soup or casserole will keep you full longer – and is more appealing than salad.
Breakfast sets you up for the day. Try porridge, or wholemeal toast.
Drink water before breakfast (and before coffee or fruit juice). Eat something green every day.
Blackhorse places a strong emphasis on being active. Mr Botten’s own resolution for 2016 is to continue training for the Green Man Ultra Marathon, 46 miles around the Forest of Avon in April.
He is therefore delighted to see children, staff and pupils improving their fitness.
“We are starting a school gate running club for parents and we hope some of our families will take part in the Pomphrey Hill park run before Easter,” he said.
“We are not saying everyone has to be superfit but we can all start somewhere. It is great to see parents being active with their children and helping them to form good habits for life. ”
Teacher Kellie Stanley, who took up running last year, with a club last year, said her resolution was to “leave my running comfort zone” by entering a half-marathon, something that a year ago, seemed a laughable target.
She has talked to the children in class about making resolutions, reflecting on choices we make and setting targets.
“We’ve tried to focus on making small changes continually throughout the year, since September, in order to improve our work, social skills and all areas of school life. It’s important that children realise that resolutions can be made and followed at any time of the year - not just January.”
Of course, resolutions do not always have to be about health and fitness; they can be about other positive changes too.
One Blackhorse pupil and member of the school council told Downend Voice how she had arranged for children to raise money for the Wedding Wishing Well charity after it supported her uncle and how she had resolved to help make her family happy during 2016.
Another said she was trying hard to stop biting her nails, while two boys are undertaking their own personal challenge to wear shorts rather than long trousers for a whole year.
All the children we spoke to, who were aged eight to ten, were determined to stick to their resolutions.
Perhaps it’s time for those of us who are a little older, and somewhat more weak-willed to stop making excuses and try a little harder. After all, it’s February now.
Smoothie, anyone?


“I am walking to and from school every day. My mum comes to meet me with the dog. And I am having cucumber and melon in my lunchbox.”

“I am doing exercise in the garden – even if it’s raining. My mum and dad are doing it too, but when it’s wet my dad does it indoors.”

“At home we are not having full-on puddings any more, just fruit and a chocolate bar.”

“I used to drink a lot of juice but now we are drinking water. My mum and dad try to have 1500-200 ml a day and I try to have 1000ml.”
“I have been emptying the dishwasher and helping my mum. We are trying to make people in the family more happy.”

“I got into a bit of habit of biting my nails. I am trying hard to stop – I have to put stuff on them every day,”

“We decided at the start of the academic year to wear shorts all the time. I do a lot of sports and I am lucky that I don’t really feel the cold so it is OK.”

“I heard a man on the radio say he had tried to wear shorts for a whole year and it was hard – but it is easy. I suppose if I fell I’d be more likely to cut my leg.”