The Learning Bus

by Sue Thorn in Northampton, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 30th January 2019 we successfully raised £260 with 7 supporters in 28 days

The Learning Bus: a bus converted into a mobile classroom for disadvantaged children and parents to learn about and experience healthy food.

by Sue Thorn in Northampton, England, United Kingdom

Obesity in childhood is a growing problem in the UK; known as modern malnutrition it is not necessarily that children eat too much but, due to low income, lack of knowledge or just trying to make sure your children are not hungry, it might be the wrong type of foods.

After working in primary education for over five years, Tracey Thorn thought she would try and make a difference by working directly with children and parents in a non-judgemental, fun environment. Tracey has a BA Hons in teaching and learning and wanted to use both her experience and skills to make a positive change.

Children who are over-weight or eating unhealthily often do not do so well at school, they may be bullied or 'left out' from the games and activities their peers enjoy, they may experience poor health now and long-term.

Parents may feel that eating healthy foods is more costly; they sometimes feel they are failing as parents but do not know how to make changes -  The Learning Bus shows families how to enjoy vegetables and fruits readily available in all local budget supermarkets, as snacks, meals or smoothies. Experiencing new tastes, understanding cost and availability as well as nutritional value.  Parents say they feel much better about themselves and their parenting skills and appreciate being able to ask questions in a safe environment, children find they enjoy foods they had never experienced before but would eat again; swapping biscuits for fruit or chips for carrots. 

In November Tracey was awarded 'Social Venture Start-UP 2018' from The Change-maker Campus at the University of Northampton. Change-maker is a global network of entrepreneurial students with the aim of making the world a better place to be by identifying a 'social need and having the skills and grit to do something about it'.

The Learning Bus has been funded this first year by Tracey and her family and friends, I include myself as an early investor, Tracey is my daughter, she has reached hundreds of children and parents; some who had never tasted fruit or vegetables. We now need help to continue into year two; taking the bus to community organisations and more schools to give parents and children new ideas and experiences to improve their health and well-being. 

It will cost £6,000 to reach hundreds more children throughout 2019; to provide them with a new experience and help their parents or carers to make changes that can have a lasting effect for them, their children and possibly their grandchildren! Parents can find it hard if they did not have someone to show them as they were growing up. Many schools and local groups no longer have kitchen facilities, the bus is equipped with electricity from a generator, fridges and sinks - a complete classroom and learning area on wheels!  A solution!

The bus has a volunteer driver and assistant but we need funds to cover the vehicle costs and the food for parents and children to enjoy. Please help this project continue to grow; after a few years this fully registered and approved Community Interest Company will be able to apply for funds from other sources but we have to prove our value and need additional support now to deliver the service and compile reports as evidence of our impact.  With a little help we can change the future for so many youngsters in our county; healthier childhoods lead to healthier adulthood both in mind and body.  

You can make a difference for hundreds of children by giving a little towards our work. Thank you!

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