Mini Mermaid Running Club UK (MMRC UK) is a programme for primary school girls (7-11 years) to encourage physical activity and self esteem. Currently implemented in eight schools in Leeds, Dr Nicola Eccles has evaluated the programme and demonstrated the outstanding results that it produces in key areas of girls’ lives.
Through qualitative research, focus groups and observations with girls and coaches, the research revealed the way the programme helped girls: Getting to know their inner self; developing resilience; managing peer relations; physical self awareness.
The programme ‘disrupted normal’ and created a unique experience for a range of girls who were viewed as inactive and lacking in self-esteem.
Qualitative research was carried out between January 2016 and July 2016. There were a number of key findings from the research:
- From a physical perspective, there was a marked difference observed in girls’ physical endurance and physical self-efficacy. Crucially, MMRC UK gives girls a platform to be heard and from this, a core theme emerging from the research is the way the programme gives girls ‘tools’ to get to know themselves better.
- There was also an apparent shift in girls’ self-belief, particularly around the ability to understand goal-setting and what it meant to set a goal, work for it, and then achieve it.
- One central factor in girls’ lives is their unique attachment to one another. MMRC UK addresses the challenges girls face on a daily basis around peer relations, and teaches them how to negotiate and understand one another. This is perhaps one of the most valuable assets of MMRC UK – supplying girls with the tools they need to manage friendship politics.
Girls on the programme said:
- “It helped me walk away and not listen to the bully”
- “(Now) …I know that I can be who I want to be”
- “Running was hard at first but Mini Mermaids tells you never to give up and that makes us feel like we can do it”
The majority of girls in the UK are not active enough to reach levels that will improve their health. Studies also show that girls as young as seven are overly concerned with their appearance and demonstrate low self-confidence and low self-belief. So there has never been a more appropriate time for a programme like MMRC UK to be implemented in schools across the UK.
MMRC UK provides an innovative programme which has the potential to address the key issue – helping girls incorporate physical activity as an enjoyable part of their daily lives whilst enhancing their self-belief and self-confidence.
Research was conducted by Dr Nicola Eccles, Director of Research at CP Active UK.
For more information on implementing a MMRC programme at your school contact Hannah Corne: Hannah@minimermaidrunningclub.org
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