CAMPAIGN: Gymkids boosts use of equipment in schools

Last July the start-up firm Gymkids hired sports and education PR specialist Early Doors.

Client Gymkids
PR Team Early Doors
Timescale July 2006-January 2007
Budget £10,000

With about a quarter of children aged two to 15 in the UK now overweight, child obesity is a hot topic. Gymkids, set up by Steve Smith and former primary school deputy head Rick Dalton, produces a range of fitness equipment specially designed for young children to have fun while increasing their levels of activity.

Objectives
To position Gymkids as a responsible supplier of fitness programmes and equipment for nursery and primary school children, with a firm focus on safety and education. To install products in 100 primary schools across the UK.

Strategy and Plan
Early Doors recognised that fitness equipment for children could result in a backlash from those questioning its suitability for vulnerable young bodies and the fact children were exercising in a gym instead of outdoors.

Before embarking on media activity, Early Doors took Gymkids to meet potential advocates and challengers from University College Hospital, the DfES and the Department of Health. The firm explained its range of mini-riders, walkers and running machines and outlined the firm’s philosophy of encouraging cardiovascular rather than weight-bearing activity. The PR team also developed a series of case studies to demonstrate Gymkids in action.

The products were launched to the media in September, backed by lesson plans for teachers that showed how to integrate the equipment into PE lessons and other core curriculum areas.

A school in Birmingham was filmed by ITV, while a maths class plotted graphs on how far children had run on machines. Children in Basingstoke appeared on 5 News, demonstrating products and acting as reporters.

Measurement and Evaluation
The launch attracted the interest of the Times Educational Supplement – as its lead news story – and BBC Online.

This led to follow-ups in the UK by The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Evening Standard, ITV and BBC Breakfast News.

The story appeared overseas in Spain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Ireland, the US and Australia. It also featured in trade press such as 5 to 7 Educator, PE & Sports Teacher and Health Club Management.

Results
Gymkids equipment has now been installed in more than 300 primary schools in the UK, resulting in the firm renewing its contract with Early Doors until January next year.

Sonali Hindmarch, editor of 5 to 7 Educator who met the Gymkids media team, says: ‘It was controversial as really kids should be running around outside, but Gymkids did a good job of justifying the arguments and covered all bases’.




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