Tessa Sanderson Grays Judo Foundation

Active Essex

It has been widely found that the impact of Covid -19 has had lasting issues on peoples mental and physical wellbeing. Consequently, Active Essex have been working hard to provide support to local groups to enable them to make real changes to the lives of their communities. Through providing sessions of physical activity, this has helped improve social inclusion among residents. One such group is the Tessa Sanderson – Grays Judo Foundation.

The main aim of the Foundation is to provide a safe and inspiring environment where children and their families can achieve a healthier lifestyle by taking part in physical activity on a regular basis, whilst learning new skills.

The coaches at the Foundation noticed parents and carers struggled with time, resources and were forced to juggle between children’s activities and their own. This sparked the idea of ‘Family Fitness’; a coach-led session held once a week in the early evening where parents, carers and children play team games and do simple fitness exercises suitable for all ages. It proved to be successful and became a special time for participating families, where they spent quality time together whilst keeping active.

After applying for a Find Your Active fund from Active Essex, the group were able to provide judo suits for the beginners and cover the cost of their grading fees, until they reach their next coloured belt. This resulted in young people becoming well established in their judo pathway and more likely to continue being involved in the sport. With Active Essex’s support, the sessions have been running since August 2021, and have engaged 41 participants from 19 families.

Participants from the group shared: “Fitness and judo has become a big part of our life…We have a cracking time with the kids and we are all so much healthier… Family Fitness is a fantastic idea; my daughter and I both enjoy the sessions. It took me back to my youth and I’m glad that I can share this experience with my daughter.”

The participants are family members ranging from 5 years old, to 48, with 65% of the adults female and 35% male. 57% of the under 18s male and 47% female, who now regularly practise sport, benefitting their activity levels, helping to prevent and tackle local anti-social behaviour and crime.

Children and parents alike have discovered the positive impact of regular physical activities. The lead deliverer said: “A very shy little girl joined Family Fitness with her dad and became regular attendees, both enjoying the exercises. After a few weeks the little girl surprisingly decided to join the judo class as well and has significantly improved in her confidence. Another of our judo beginners recently participated in an international competition (which was his first ever). It’s stories like theirs makes our job worth all the time and effort.”

At Active Essex, we love reading and hearing about how our support and funding has brought communities together to transform residents lives through physical activity.