A family-friendly Island Games: A look back on how we helped make Guernsey 2023 a positive, healthy experience for all
Here, we look back on how our team supported the Island Games to make the week as family-friendly and health-focused as possible
Guernsey’s hosting of the 2023 Island Games gave us the opportunity to advocate for and support the Games to be a healthy and family friendly event. This approach is important to us, as it focusses on small changes that can impact many people by reshaping our surroundings and giving people opportunities to improve their health.
Working closely with the Island Games organising team, in particular Deputy Director Emma Beardsell, together we built in key principles and initiatives from three of our workstreams; Eat Well, Be Active and Substance Use.
In the weeks before the games our team delivered 11 assemblies at 10 primary schools, alongside 13 local athletes, providing 3,000 children with messaging around the role that being healthy has played in their sporting success. In line with our Food 4 Sport project, all children were provided with a healthy snack too. The Eat Well team also worked with the Island Games Committee to shape healthy options in the catering for athletes in the food village at Beau Sejour.
At the opening ceremony our team distributed 3,000 pieces of fruit, donated by the Co-op to spectators, athletes, and volunteers. We were delighted with the positive feedback we got from many members of the public.
During the week, our team organised fourteen ‘fanzones’ at a range of different sports, where we welcomed 2000 pupils from 11 schools who walked to the events. We gave away 1,000 pieces of fruit, all delivered by e-cargo bikes.
We also worked hard to embed active travel options into the Games. From identifying and promoting walking routes between sports, venues and hotels, to new ‘park and stride’ options, and arranging additional cycle parking, signage and temporary racks at key sporting venues and in town. It was great to see bike parks so busy across the island during the week. We also arranged e-bike loans for members of the organising team through partnership with local retailers and Environment and Infrastructure. The Health Improvement Commission staff cycled 400 miles during the week!
Our work on promoting low risk drinking was also embedded throughout the Games with 16 sporting venues displaying our ‘Go No and Low’ posters, stickers and coasters developed specifically to have a sporting theme. We were also grateful Liberation Group and Aztech Soccer who offered price promotions on no and low drinks and Randalls who stocked a range of no-low options.
Finally, as the Island Games drew to a close, we launched our Island Games Legacy Grant, which aims to provide seed funding to community organisations to extend, expand or enhance physical activity options for adults.
Alun Williams, Be Active lead and a veteran of the last ten island Games reflected on a busy but successful week:
"At the Health Improvement Commission, we decided early on that our role would be to support a family-friendly and healthy Island Games, by drawing on our varied health improvement workstreams which embrace healthy living. In particular it was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate that community events, sporting or otherwise, can be inclusive of everyone and can create a healthy, positive experience. We were delighted by how willing the organising committee, different sectors, and organisations across the island were to work with us and contribute to creating a healthier event and thank everyone who played their part."
The Commission liaised closely with the organising committee and Deputy Director Emma Beardsell Comments on their contribution:
"We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the Health Improvement Commission team for their enthusiasm, support and health-focused initiatives leading up to the Guernsey 2023 NatWest International Island Games. During the week itself, their hard work contributed to the significant numbers of children engaging with the sporting events; it was wonderful to see so many young people relishing the opportunity to support competitors by visiting the HIC Fan Zones and cheering for the athletes with such enthusiasm. We feel confident that the engagement of our young people with the events in Guernsey 2023 will become a legacy in which sport, healthy eating and active travel will continue to be valued by the community of Guernsey."