SmartGym Gloucestershire seeks to explore the value of combining physical and cognitive exercises to help build young people’s mental resilience. It is one of two projects being piloted under the theme of ‘Young People and Mental Health Resilience’ which forms part of the Future Challenges programme.
Rugged Interactive, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families are working together to evaluate the SmartGym Resilience Programme. The programme combines physical and cognitive activities, gamification of physical activities (using game elements to solve problems and increase engagement) and a tailored support tool to embed and reinforce users’ personal development. The cognitive activity elements were created by the Anna Freud National Centre and the gamified physical activities element uses Rugged Interactive’s CardioWall® technology.
The SmartGym Resilience Programme has been piloted in Newent Community School and Sixth Form Centre in Gloucestershire. The trial stage of this project is now complete and data analysis and evaluation are underway.
How the programme works
The programme takes place over 10 sessions and resembles circuit training. Young people follow a set of weekly performance drills on the equipment and track their own progress. Trained staff work with participants to explore topics surrounding motivation and resilience, based on this progress.
The drills are designed to be fun and provide a way to build relationships between young people. They help participants start conversations about their experiences and emotions, and develop improved resilience to cope with the challenges of everyday life. This engagement may also highlight individuals who would benefit from more targeted or specialist support.
This pilot project began during the 2019-20 school year with a selected cohort of secondary school children. A group of Year 7 students undertook the SGR Programme (Jan – March 2020), while being supported by fellow Year 10 students. These students have been guided to understand and improve their executive functioning skills, motivation and resilience.
Since the re-opening of Newent Community School and Sixth Form Centre in September 2020, a new group of Year 8 students were able to benefit from the programme, while maintaining social distancing measures.
Building an evidence base
SmartGym is one of two projects being piloted under the theme of ‘Young People and Mental Health Resilience’ which forms part of the Future Challenges programme. Through this programme, we are working closely with innovators and local partners, including clinicians, commissioners and the chosen trial sites, to pilot their innovations and evaluate them in a real-world setting. This will help build evidence to support possible future commissioning decisions and opportunities.
We are also collaborating with the Wessex Centre for Implementation Science to independently evaluate this project.