It wasn’t until having her own children that Jodie Hughes truly understood the importance of physical activity for children under six. Now the mother of two is an advocate for it, running a business purely focused on just that. Caitlyn Morgan chats to Jodie about the benefits of her program and why physical activity shouldn’t only become a focus once children reach school age. Pictures: Ben Gross
WHEN Jodie Hughes was faced with the dilemma of having to return to work full time after welcoming her first born, Ollie, only 12 months earlier, Ready Steady Go Kids was her solution.
At the time the program was run all over Australia and internationally but had yet to make its way to Mildura.
“I wasn’t prepared to go back to work full time and it was by luck that a friend had taken their child to a Ready Steady Go Kids class in Melbourne, she then mentioned I should look into it,” Jodie says.
“We had both always played sport and coached and Todd (Jodie’s husband) was already working full time as a PE teacher.
“It’s been the best decision we could have made, it has just fitted in with our lifestyle just nicely.”
Having studied sport and recreational management at university and a keen athlete, teaching sport and physical activity wasn’t a far stretch from Jodie’s already established skill set.
Since introducing Ready Steady Go Kids in Mildura almost five years ago, the business has continued to grow from strength to strength with classes now run four days a week.
“We absolutely love what we do, we are passionate about helping kids get active and supporting them in their school readiness skills; but also super proud to offer this program to our local community,” Jodie says.
“We love seeing kids having fun, learning and it’s such a rewarding environment to see the improvement and growth in kids when they move through our progressive program.”
Each term, five sports (soccer, tennis, basketball, hockey, golf, AFL, rugby, athletics, cricket and T-ball) are taught in two-week blocks, which is considered sufficient time to introduce and reinforce the basic concepts and motor patterns.
“The idea is to start creating a love of sport and also developing gross motor skills and fine motor skills,” Jodie says.
“But it’s not just about sport, it’s so much more than that.
“It’s about getting them to learn to listen, be part of a team and taking turns. There is a whole range of benefits.
“As kids move through our program, we teach the importance of warm-up and stretching and then give them a full body gross motor workout via our circuit and end game after they have learnt the skills of the sport being taught that week.”
Two of Jodie’s biggest advocates are her children, Ollie, now five, and two and a half year old Milla.
“Research shows kids need to be active for at least an hour a day and with technology such a big part of our lives, kids aren’t getting out as much as they should and it was after having kids I could really see the importance of the program and both our kids love it,” Jodie says.
“With our eldest being so tall, his coordination wasn’t that great but since starting the classes, his development and coordination has improved out of sight.”
Jodie hopes to continue sharing her passion and expanding her program.
“Our next step is visiting a lot more child care centres, which allows us to influence other kids to be active and gives them something really fun to do,” she says.
“It also allows for those whose parents can’t take them to classes, to still be involved.
“The dream is to one day have our own environment, which is a hub of fun and excitement.”