Giant mural painted at Ipswich nursery in bid to crack down on childhood obesity in Suffolk
Toddlers at an Ipswich nursery are helping an artist paint a giant mural designed to encourage Suffolk children to eat healthily.
Joy Pirkle, who was invited to design a similar piece for Stowhealth medical practice to help them crack down on childhood obesity last year, is now rolling out a new scheme in Ipswich.
Called Play More, the initiative provides playground regeneration grants, toys and large murals to nurseries across the UK to encourage more outdoor play for children.
For the past week Joy has been at Quayside Bright Horizons at Neptune Quay, close to the University of Suffolk.
There, she and more than a dozen toddlers and young children have been working together to paint the mural, created to reflect the environment they are learning in.
It’s really good to get a sense of what they would like to have on their mural,” said Ms Pirkle.
“After all, it is them that will be seeing it every day.
“The idea behind it all really is to promote exercise and healthy eating for children.
“It’s not a surprise to anyone to hear that childhood obesity is on the increase in Suffolk and at schools across the country.
The artist, who has also painted murals for prison units, added: “Visualising healthy foods and exciting sports to get involved in helps the children to appreciate the environment around them and helps to boost their self-esteem.”
Quayside’s mural is based around a forest – a concept mainly thought up by the children themselves. There are a number of trees close to the nursery and the children are able to play in areas surrounded by plants.
Ms Pirkle’s scheme aims to tackle the diminishing time children spend outside.
Research shows the average British child spends just five hours playing outside each week compared with 45.5 hours watching television.
Earlier this year a report in this newspaper revealed Suffolk had been ranked among the worst counties in Britain for physical inactivity.
Figures released by NHS Digital and Sport England found one in ten Suffolk children are categorised as being obese by the time they reach reception.
Ms Pirkle added: “This is exactly what we are trying to avoid, by highlighting the benefits of physical activity to try and tackle this crisis.”