Wigan Athletic first team stars Samy Morsy and Chey Dunkley attended the Fit and Fed initiative at Dorset Road Community Centre in Atherton.
Both players took part in games of dodgeball and arts and crafts, colouring in the Latics logo whilst also signing programmes for the children.
Over 40 children attended the session, gave each child the opportunity to take part in football, dance sessions, arts and crafts and they also completed the Daily Mile – a project that gets children walking, running or jogging for 15 minutes a day.
Fit and Fed is funded by Wigan Council and supported by Wigan Athletic Community Trust across the Wigan Borough. Fit and Fed provides a safe space for young people to get involved in lots of physical activities, make new friends whilst having a free lunch provided.
Cllr Keith Cunliffe, Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead for Adult Social Care, said: “Fit and Fed is a great project, part of it was brought about because of the difficulties people are in now. A lot of children get free school meals in this area, there is a lot of single parents, people on low pay so the free school meal is probably the only nutritious meal some children get.
“It’s a project that was aimed at ensuring that all the children in this area have the opportunity to have a meal everyday whilst the school holidays are on, whilst tying that into some activity to ensure the children are active, physically healthy and promoting the physical health as well.
“Wigan Athletic Community Trust has been a great partner for us, not only for this project but many other projects that go on in this borough around maintaining people’s health and wellbeing. So seeing Wigan Athletic getting involved in Fit and Fed is great because the children enjoy seeing the professional footballers and naturally them coming out is a great stimulus and motivation for the kids.”
Over the past two years Fit and Fed has delivered over 1,000 hours’ worth of activities and provided over 10,000 lunches & 1,800 snacks to over 1,000 children and young people.
The Trust’s involvement in Fit and Fed over the summer will see them work with around 250 children at 10 different venues across the borough.
Latics captain, Morsy, explained:
“It was a brilliant session and we had a really good time; playing dodgeball and doing some arts and crafts - which I am used to as I do that with my daughter. It was great to see so many children, how happy they were and how vibrant too.
“It is a safe environment where they can play and build their confidence and interact with others and get a meal.
“It is shocking that families can’t afford a meal in the current climate and it is sad to see.
“The children can come to these sessions and have a great time and are really happy, which is great to see.”
Brian Seddon, a volunteer at Dorset Road Community Centre, who has been involved with Fit and Fed since it began said: “We run these camps where we provide activities for the children plus we can feed them and make sure over the long summer holiday they are fit and fed and ready for school when the time comes.
“We have a constant membership of children wanting to come, it is growing and the feedback we get from the parents and children is fantastic, because there is a need.
“It is not the fault of the families or children; it’s just how the circumstances are for those families. So any help we can give, we can make sure they are getting at least one healthy meal a day along with the activities to improve their health too.”