Since September last year, the Appeal has been working in partnership with Mini Mermaids UK to engage and inspire children in some of the most hard to reach areas of Leeds.
The Mini Mermaids programme was founded in America in 2009 in response to its founder having discovered a lack of after-school running clubs for girls at or below the poverty line. Since then, the movement has grown and grown and is now being delivered in the UK.
Last year, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal committed to support delivery of Mini Mermaids and its equivalent course for boys, Young Tritons, to 30 schools across Leeds. Schools were selected in areas of deprivation and these programmes have been 100% funded by the Appeal.
This week girls from Ingram Road School in Holbeck complete their end-of-programme challenge, each running, walking or skipping 5km.
All Mini Mermaid programmes are delivered by volunteer coaches with the support of the Mini Mermaids team. Ingram Road worked with Volunteer Coach, Caroline; her words sum up the experience:
"Every time one of my groups of Mini Mermaids does their final challenge, I'm overcome with pride and happiness for them. This lot were astonishing. The challenges they've faced already would drain adults of their energy, but these 8ish year old girls absolutely smashed it.
She continued "3 miles is such a long way, and they've learned big lessons getting there: Take it at your own pace. Never give up. Breathe and focus. Support each other. We're raising good, strong and kind humans. Also ones that don't mind the rain!"
The programme teaches girls the value of exercise and moving their bodies regardless of their size, shape or ability. The workouts are not focused on being first or running fast, but rather on each girl finding her own pace.
Mini Mermaids aims to teach every girl to lead a balanced life by listening to her inner voice, valuing her uniqueness, learning to love movement and discovering the finish line is just the beginning. These values resonate with the Appeal and our partnership with Mini Mermaids has seen the charity support 300 children across Leeds in this way.
Well done to all the Ingram Road School participants - a big Mini Mermaids high fins to you and to all the amazing participants across the year. You can find out more about Mini Mermaids on their website.