Mark Christie paper olympics

University’s health and wellbeing support for communities during Coronavirus pandemic


With Coronavirus restrictions on movement continuing, students nearing completion of their degrees at the University of Cumbria have turned to technology to inspire children to be active and healthy.

Academics across a range of fields are also sharing their professional expertise in health and wellbeing resources that the university is making available to everyone via its website –

This spring, final-year sport, coaching and physical education students had been due to deliver a series of community events in Lancashire including a Change4Life festival, a Street Games Fit & Fed initiative aimed at tackling holiday hunger; and a Tri-Golf Schools Games qualifier but they were cancelled after restrictions on movement were introduced.

Instead, they have created a series of short videos. Each one up to four minutes long and features games and activities to do at home, created following a suggestion by organisers of the Lancaster & Heysham School Games and are available online here, at

With something for all tastes, ages and abilities, videos include ball skills, gymnastics, boxercise, kickboxing, football and yoga using a toilet roll. Several students have also included easy-to-follow recipes for healthy smoothies, salads and other culinary creations.

Mark Christie, senior lecturer in sport and physical activity development at the university’s Institute of Health, said: “The videos are a great resource for families to use to keep the children occupied and make life a little bit easier during the current lockdown.

“It's tough for everyone right now but fun activities like these are a great way to keep ourselves physically fit, keep our sports skills up to scratch, and also help our mental health at the same time. Years of research shows that exercise is good for you both physically and mentally and, even though we can't mix socially right now, these videos are a nice way to connect with others.”

Mark is also among the university’s staff who are sharing their expertise as part of an initiative to help individuals and families during lockdown, with his Paper Olympics Youtube video providing a competitive series of games for households.

New online blogs have been compiled by members of staff. They include livewellatcumbria written the university’s mental health and wellbeing manager and former NHS allied healthcare worker Dave Wilson.

Michelle Leek, university pro vice chancellor, said: “Recognising this is a challenging time, our staff and student health and wellbeing remains a priority. 

“To support our collective wellbeing, we’ve launched a wellbeing campaign to help us all maintain morale through these difficult times. Working with staff from across the university community, we are planning to include the following elements -  community volunteering, weekly yoga, mindfulness sessions, regular exercise classes, advice and tips from our Employee Assistance Programme, lunchtime quizzes and ‘lunch and learn’ online programmes.

“Staff from across the university have been coming forward with great ideas on how to keep connected and healthy both mentally and physically during this time.

“We’re also pleased to see how our students have been using skills they have been developing during their time with us and turned their hand to technology to offer something to families at this time.”

Sport students’ videos can be found in the latest university blog, online at

Further advice, information and tips are available at and




Mark Christie and Dave Wilson are available for interviews. Contact Kelly Pattison on 07977223258 or


1. Sport senior lecturer Mark Christie, at home, explaining his Paper Olympics

2. Dave Wilson, mental health and wellbeing manager, University of Cumbria

3. Final year student Rachel Deer