Chirpy teenager Tilly Penn used to refuse to pose for family snaps – now she’s thrilled with her professional portfolio photos for a London acting agency and is feeling fit, healthy and fabulous – thanks to the Healthy Weight team at Kent Community Health NHS Trust and the Ready Steady Go programme.
“I was never the skinniest girl in the class,” smiles 13-year-old Tilly, who lives with her mum Nina in Dover. “But I’d always loved PE until a couple of accidents put me out of action and the weight started to pile on.”
In a series of unfortunate events, Tilly broke her arm two years ago, and then suffered a fractured leg the following year. “Basically in years seven and eight at school I couldn’t take part in PE or do any exercise at all!” said the One Direction fanatic. “But I met the Ready Steady Go team at a school sports open day and I thought, ‘I could give that a go’.”
Mum Nina works shifts for P&O ferries at Dover docks and was the first to admit that the family had got into some bad habits when it came to mealtimes. “I had lost a lot of weight myself, just through cutting out the bad stuff. But because of my work I often opted for takeaways or ready meals for me and Tilly. We both wanted to be motivated to stay healthy, that’s where Ready Steady Go came in.”
Tilly and Nina started the programme in January 2013 at a local school. “It was really good fun,” says Tilly, “I was worried at first but I met some really nice people and we made lots of friends.”
Ready Steady Go covers healthy eating, being more active and changing family routines to encourage the whole family to take steps towards a healthier future.
“The course showed us that cooking from scratch didn’t have to be hard work, we just needed to plan ahead and be a bit more organised,” says Nina. “Now I watch the portion sizes and we always eat together at the table. It’s made a real difference.”
“I’ve got loads more energy now”, says Tilly, “I eat breakfast every day and I usually walk to school. I’ve even improved my grades.” Tilly also gets out and about in Dover harbour twice a week to take part in a rowing club, which she loves. “I’ve been going for five weeks and I really enjoy the exercise and the fresh air. I’m glad we did Ready Steady Go and I’d recommend it to any family who wants to be healthier.”