A campaign is underway across the Fylde coast to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people.
The programme is being delivered to nine to 11 year olds at 14 primary schools throughout the area.
The outreach programme, by the AFC Fylde Community Foundation, has already seen more than 300 schoolchildren taking part in classroom based and physical activities.
These are aimed at strengthening resilience, while raising awareness of support networks available to anybody experiencing mental health difficulties.
Using football as the key to engage the children, it is hoped that the project will tackle the social stigma attached to mental ill-health and help young people better understand their own mental wellbeing from an early age.
The new programme, led by the foundation’s health and wellbeing coordinator, Nathan Davies, is being delivered to year five and six pupils along the Fylde coast.
It is already proving a hit with staff and pupils alike.
Tracey Stock, sports leader at Newton Bluecoat School near Blackpool, said: “With the support of AFC Fylde Community Foundation, the children have designed and delivered their own mental health programme, which has impacted positively on their own happiness and learning.”
She added: “The pupils have told me how great it has been learning about how exercise can have a positive affect on your mental wellbeing, as well as your physical health, and how endorphins react in your body.”
Nathan Davies, health and wellbeing co-ordinator at AFC Fylde Community Foundation, said: “It is incredibly rewarding to see the kids engaging with this project and learning how to cope better with mental health issues.”
He added: “We’ve tried to show the importance of looking after your mental health in the same way you would look after your physical health and exercise is a great way to do this.”
Nathan said the results were already promising and added: ““We are confident that the programme will provide positive results and give the children involved the tools to deal with mental health difficulties and encourage them to discuss these issues with their family or friends.”
Schools wanting to find out more about the new programme can visit www.afcfyldefoundation.co.uk or contact Tom Hutton on 01253 677420.