BETTER health and fitness could soon be at the fingertips of school kids thanks to a new app from a Rotherham Titans player.
The project is the brainchild of Jamie Cooke, who was shocked by the poor diet and lack of physical activity among many youngsters during his visits to schools in his grassroots work with the club’s community foundation — and decided to do something about it.
“Speaking to hundreds of kids, it became a common trend that a lot of their diets were really poor, with lots of highly processed foods and a lack of nutritious food,” said Jamie.
“In terms of physical activity, apart from what we were providing, the majority of the kids weren’t getting anywhere near the recommended amount of about 60 minutes a day.
“I thought if we could create an app to encourage healthier eating choices and ways of achieving that 60 minutes of physical activity by monitoring it and making in trackable then kids and parents could look and check it throughout the day.
“Hopefully, that will encourage better habits and make a difference.”
The result is a health and fitness app which could be in the palms of thousands of Rotherham schoolchildren by the autumn.
Titans Community Foundation trustee Lindsay Jones put Jamie in touch with broadband provider CityFibre, who agreed to provide funding, and the idea has snowballed.
Jamie is now working with CityFibre, product makers AND Digital and charity WorkWise to support five schools who are competing to help design the app.
They will be judged at a virtual Get up to Speed with STEM event next week, from which the best will be chosen and developed.
“We have given the schools a complete brief on the requirements we expect within the app and we have had weekly check-ins over Zoom,” said Jamie.
“The finished product might be a mobile phone application or a web app; something that is compatible with what the schools actually have.
“The school chosen will follow the app through from idea to testing to getting it made.”
Teams from Wales High, Aston Academy, Swinton Academy, Wingfield Academy and Dearne Valley College are involved.
The new app couldn’t be better timed because, after many months of lockdown, worries about kids’ lack of physical activity and diet have only increased.
The new piece of hi-tech kit will guide them to better choices.
Lindsay said: “When I visit schools, kids are often suprised by the amount of hidden sugar in food and drink.
“For example, there are 18 teaspoons of sugar in a can of Coke. Even milk has six teaspoons of sugar for the full fat milk equivalent.”
Jamie added: “Obesity is an epidemic now. “If you can get these kids from an early age to about 16 when they leave school, they can build some good habits and be in a much better position for their futures.”
The app will go into production in the summer term with the aim of being rolled out to schools across Rotherham from September.