Bolton Smart Enterprise’s Healthy Options Group was established by young people in Bolton to deliver series of sessions promoting health and wellbeing over 26 weeks to develop to improve their own lifestyles and wellbeing.

Young people took part in group workshop sessions where they explored the positive results of maintaining a healthy exercise regime, healthy eating and balanced diets. They looked at food contents e.g. salts, fats, sugars, and fibre, and the different food groups and what they mean, i.e. carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre, vitamins and minerals, and identifying what is ‘fast food’ and what is ‘junk food’.

They will also develop a walking group so that they can meet together with their friends, make new friends, and go to places that they would not go to on their own.

Wanting to develop The Healthy Options group to improve their own lifestyles and wellbeing, the young people met at their steering group meeting and identified that they would like to develop a programme made up of the following elements; increase their level of activity each week, which means taking regular exercise, increase their awareness about what is available in their own community and wider across Bolton, looking at what Bolton has got to offer, for example; local parks, Rivington, Jumbles, Bolton One Jason Kenny Centre, local leisure centres and swimming pools, local sports clubs and team activities. Young people want to set up a weekly walking group for young people within the community as well as create their own posters and publicity campaigns to attract more young people aged 14-25 to join the walking group.

They publicised their project through local public buildings, services and community centres in their area, such as the local secondary schools, Bolton at Home UCAN centre, Bolton College, Bolton Council of Mosques, Somalia Centre, local youth clubs and other youth and voluntary organisations, such as Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

The project was a huge hit. The group monitored their weight using a weight chart on a regular basis and tried new foods, becoming more aware about the food they eat including sugar, fat, salt contents and other food groups. They have found that they are now eating healthier and doing more exercise.

The group are feeling more confident, have increased their social skills and made new friends because of a result of participating in The Healthy Options project. The group was pleased to have achieved all of the outcomes set out in the plan. Some of the young people also lost weight and have continued to lose weight, particularly those in the obese category. The young people have also been able to try a huge variety of healthy foods.

The Healthy Options programme has made a significant impact on the young people who participated on the programme in the following ways:

  • Young people are more aware about their personal appearance, weight, the relationship they have with food e.g. Effects of fast food, the importance of foods that are nutritious
  • Young people are happier because they have made new friends who they can socialise with outside of the programme
  • Young people are enjoying being more active through being part of a regular walking group
  • Young people are more confident because they have lost weight and have more of an  idea about what foods to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Young people have joined a variety of leisure activities such as bowling club, Bolton One Leisure Centre, football clubs, karate and basketball activities
  • Young people now regularly walk as part of the walking group

One attendee said: “Since I have been eating healthily I feel better about myself. I never usually eat fruit but I have now started to eat a least three pieces a day. I have made new friends and really enjoy going to Jumbles park with our new walking group.”