Clowning around during lockdown

Supporting children to be active at home during lockdown.

Nicky Harverson

13 Jul 2020

Tweedy the Clown and friends.

Lockdown changed our daily routine, especially how we make physical activity part of our day. With schools closed, this meant adapting and learning how we could support children to stay active at home.


With schools, playgrounds and our usual avenues to keep moving closed, we had to get creative and use the space we had at home in the best way we could. Outdoor activities had to become indoors and some gardens became tennis courts, skate parks and obstacle courses.


In order to capture parents imaginations to give permission for children to play we had to do the same. We had to let go of our preconceived ideas about what physical activity was to us and think about what it could be.


That’s where the idea to have Tweedy the Clown front our School Games challenge came from. Tweedy was exactly what we needed, fun, unique and an inspiration to children and parents in Gloucestershire and beyond. With little time to prepare, we weren’t sure whether our idea would work. But after seeing the noise and positive response around different virtual challenges, such as Joe Wicks’ PE lessons, we decided to give it a go.


We wanted to create a local challenge that was exciting and that Gloucestershire schools and pupils could take part in at home. For us, creating a challenge that was different from everything else going on was key. Each week we shared a new challenge designed in line with the School Games values, to ensure the children weren’t just staying fit and moving more, but most importantly having fun.


Instead of leading on the events as we would during the Gloucestershire School Games, Tweedy’s Glos School Games challenge encouraged the children to think freely and discover new ways to move for themselves. We trusted, that while coaches, parents and instructors are all important figures in helping support young people to be active, children are themselves naturally creative and resourceful – and most of the time all they need is a little space and encouragement.


During the six week challenge we found that although we challenged the children they challenged us back. We saw this in the videos they filmed, how each one had come up with new ways to get moving and interpret the activity in their unique way. Rainy days didn’t pose a problem either; instead we saw a sense of discovery from the children and the imaginative use of different spaces from hallways to stairs.


Nothing felt like failure as we learned and adapted our approach, such as using the STEP guide from Activity Alliance to ensure each challenge was accessible, inclusive and challenged us to think differently about engaging the children.


Finding new ways to encourage young people to move more and connect with parents is so important, and we loved seeing families connect and engage with Tweedy’s challenge.  


I know this will really help inform our thinking around future school games events, with an increased focus on fun and creativity. What better way of engaging new and different young people in our countywide programme?

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Nicky Harverson
13 Jul 2020

Project Officer for Young People at Active Gloucestershire.