East Sussex Gets FITZ
Dedicated to inspiring primary aged children and their families to have fun and get ‘Fitz’! , FITZ is a personalized, simple and staged activity programme set to be beta-launched in a variety of primary schools across Sussex.
Locate East Sussex gets to the bottom of the company’s innovative idea, and how Locate East Sussex was able to assist and help Fitz on its journey from idea to start-up success with business planning as well as a key introduction to Good Company and Co.
Emily helped me overcome the challenges make my idea into reality, giving me the tools to plan my business.Marie BurgessFounder of Fitz
With near thirty years of experience in Primary Education including being headteacher at St Leonards C of E Primary Academy and Headteacher Ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust, Marie Burgess introduction to fitness came four years ago with a personal desire to become healthy. ‘During my time in education I saw a drop in children’s activity levels and this concerned me.’ she said. ‘I was encouraging the children to be healthy, but realised I needed to lead by example and become more active.’ Soon she realised that people were engaging with her journey to health via social media and day to day life.
Creating the ‘Personal Challenge Award’ in 2018, Marie was able to offer pupils self-led opportunities at home to improve physical activity. The programme offered a challenge that allowed the pupils to compete against themselves. ‘The programme was not about going to the gym or doing a marathon. ‘ she said ‘Family life is busy, so it needed to be something easy to do daily’.
Findings from the original programme showed, the award did not just benefit the children, but encouraged lifestyle changes within the entire family. ‘When we ran this programme, there were two unexpected outcomes: firstly, the programme was popular with children who weren’t ‘sporty’ and secondly, how much of an impact it had on the parents that took part with their children.’
‘It’s not about going to the gym or doing a marathon; it should be something easy to do daily’.
Jumping into a new venture
According to the Chief Medical Officer for England, children aged 5 to 18 are recommended to have 60 minutes of activity per day, half provided by schools, and the other outside of school. The significant impact of COVID-19 on the level of activity and the health and wellbeing of many individuals cannot be underestimated, with Sport England finding out that over the first lockdown (March 2020), the number of children meeting the guidelines for an average of 60+ mins fell from 47% to 19%, with 43% doing less than half an hour of activity whilst 7% no activity at all. ‘We are not even sure how the last lockdown (January – March 2021) would have affected activity levels as people are less likely to go outside in winter weather.’ Marie said.
Fitz plans to tackle this head-on, with exciting challenge for primary school children and their families over a 20 week programme of activities that absolutely anyone can enjoy. Designed into 4 levels, slowly increasing the amount of activity at each level. The programme is created for schools to share with their pupils through access to the Fitz website. The website allows families to log their scores, memories and activity achievements.
‘Fitz is as as simple as parking your car a few streets away or playing ‘The Floor is Lava’’ she said, ‘It’s not prescriptive, and there’s no lycra. It’s about creating easy, healthy habits.’
‘For some of the challenges we went for the traditional stuff: when is the last time you saw a group of children playing tag in the park?’ Using her experience in education and knowledge of old school games as a basis, the company will be introducing new variations, old classics and even submissions from children and families taking part. ‘The programme will build and grow itself, and children and families will actively participate by sharing ideas.’ Crab-ball anyone?
The school Marie worked at was restructuring and she decided to take redundancy as the ‘Personal Challenge Award’ morphed into a full-fledged business idea. ‘I sat on the idea for the while. I was telling friends and family that I had this idea for a business but didn’t know where to start or if it was a business.’
Wanting to increase her business assurance, Marie attended HerBiz, a fully funded Women’s Start Up Programme sponsored by NatWest, and from there, she was put in touch with Emily Wright, Locate East Sussex business manager. With her new found knowledge and Emily’s expertise, Marie’s ideas and priorities were condensed into an action plan.
‘I met with Emily Wright and talked through my ideas but didn’t know where to start! Emily gave me focus and direction and much-needed deadlines.’
Helping with Fitz’s business planning, Emily was able to help Marie clarify the companies’ goals into an action plan. As well as Emily, Jim Fletcher was able to assist Marie in advice and guidance in financial planning, ‘he was absolutely amazing. He helped me with my projections, and without Jim, I would have never known where to start’.
Emily also helped Marie identify the need for branding and software development for Fitz by recommending people and businesses that may be able to help.
Emily recommended Good Company and Co, a Hastings-based branding company. ‘Fitz wasn’t Fitz until I started working with Good Company &Co!’ Marie said. ‘The business didn’t have a name or brand when I met them.’ Good Company & Co have been able to help Marie solidify her vision into Fitz, an inspirational, inclusive, and imaginative activities programme with modern and streamlined branding. ‘I can’t thank Emily enough for introducing me to Peter and Paul.’
Working collaboratively, the team were able to find the right developers and programmers to create the software to facilitate the website, administration and activity record keeping, making it easier for schools to utilise the service. When developing the programme it was important to consider the impact on teacher workload, with a system designed so that there is a minimum input for schools with maximum output.
Fitz is working with Active Sussex to run a pilot with 10 schools around West and East Sussex. Fitz launches in June. If you would like to know more about the programme, you can get in touch with Marie and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.