Firefighters Promote Healthy Living with Hose Runs and Ladder ClimbsPlaying with fire kit, climbing ladders and taking part in drills may sound like a dream day out for many kids.

However, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are hoping these activities, and others, may be life-changing for some children.

The A Better Me course is the first of its kind in the UK and the pilots, across six fire stations, have been hugely successful.

The course helps with self-esteem, self-confidence and promotes healthy living.

Focusing on year eight students – aged about 13 – they believe intervention at this point can have an impact on how people live as adults.

It is hoped these early preventive efforts could help combat obesity and long term health conditions in adults by creating healthy pathways for the young teenagers.

This is achieved through education, developing skills and confidence-building.

The programme consists of six three hours session one evening a week at fire stations across the county and regular follow up sessions throughout the course of a year.

Fire station activities include hose runs and ladder climbs.

The groups also go off-site to do assault courses at military camps, go swimming, try their hands at orientation and take part in park runs.

Station Manager David Hodge said: “These courses can be life-changing for the teenagers in terms of health-living and the way they feel about themselves.

“Those who have taken part love it and we have not had a single person drop out – we say to parents you bring them along for one session we’ll make sure they choose to come to the rest.”

The firefighters, who work with other health care professionals, mentor the pupils and liaise with parents to provide healthy living tips.

They also cook the children a meal at the end of the session and offer nutritional advice for the whole family.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service was approached to create this course with the county’s Clinical Commissioning Groups which, with Public Health and the community, co-designed the programme.

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