Faith venues have been identified as a successful setting to support behaviour change for children and young people because they engage with whole families and communities, rather than just an individual child. Family and community support play a vital role in decreasing inactivity, planning and delivery of physical activities, and preventing childhood obesity for sustained behaviour change.
Faith settings are a channel to engage children in obesity prevention through encouraging physical activities whilst educating their family and whole community about the value of physical activity during, before and after regular worship times.
Our primary focus is working with Islamic Religious Settings (IRS), due to the low level of inactivity among children and young people seen in South Asian children within the JU:MP area. A toolkit is currently in development and has been co-produced with IRS teachers, Imams, parents of children attending IRS, volunteers and staff, female activists and obesity prevention subject matter experts focusing on physical activity, healthy diet, and organisational behaviour change specialists. This development was also in partnership with the Local Government Association and Public Health England as part of the Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme.
Within the JU:MP Active Faith Settings workstream, The IRS approach is a pioneering opportunity to engage faith settings in the promotion of obesity prevention and can be helpful in targeting high risk groups to childhood obesity like South Asian children. The learning from this approach will inform the development of opportunities to work with other faith-based organisations e.g. Churches and Gurdwaras, by modifying and replicating the Trailblazer toolkit and/or by making partnerships and collaborations with wider programmes like Living Well or other Public Health initiatives at Bradford Council.
The reasons for working closely with IRS are:
1. A large majority of the ethnic minority populations in Bradford (and England) are of Islamic faith.
2. Physical activity levels for South Asian children, particularly girls are low according to data collected by BiB.
3. Our research has shown that parents trust IRS to deliver culturally appropriate obesity prevention intervention, particularly for girls.
4. Prevalence of being overweight and obesity is higher in South Asian children compared to national average for the same.
5. 91% of South Asian Muslim children in Bradford go attend IRS for learning Islamic education for a couple of hours on some or most days of the week.
6. Some IRS already have the infrastructure, capacity, human resources and young people's leadership to deliver physical activities and workshops on organisational change, while others are eager to do the same but don't have same infrastructure and capacity, and require support to do that.
7. There are more than 120 IRS working as community organisations in Bradford and around 70 in the JU:MP area.
IRS can be mosques, madrassa (supplementary schools for Islamic learning), women's circles to study Islam, or physical activity and sports groups. IRS in the UK are often voluntarily involved in health promotion.
Active Faith Settings Updates
Posted: Fri, 01 Apr 2022 13:46
The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, visited the Al-Mustafa Centre in Manningham to talk about the work that is being carried out as part of the Active Faith Setting workstream.