Written by Press & Journalist, Ellie House
It’s not difficult to work out what Amy Mullen does for a living: her dramatic flair and passion for life are as obvious as they are infectious.
The performing arts teacher from Inverness talks with her hands and pulls five facial expressions in as many seconds. Leaping from subject to subject, she sometimes breaks into snippets of song before tipping her head back in laughter.
Whilst the mum of one may seem theatrically erratic, there is one thing on which she’s steadfast – her new social enterprise aimed at getting children across the Highlands fit.
Amy is currently principal teacher of Stagecoach Theatre Arts Inverness and spends her time encouraging youngsters to be confident on the stage. After spending time in London as a professional dancer, she decided to follow her passion for helping young people, which led her to Stagecoach. Now has a new goal in her sights.
Having worked with children for almost a decade, Amy noticed a worrying trend for children struggling with confidence issues due to their body weight. “Childhood obesity is in the news all the time and you can’t help but pay attention to the scary statistics,” she said. “I love working with children. Unfortunately, my work regularly shows me the impact that low self-esteem can have on a child.”
She continued, “I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon and lecture parents on obesity, though. As a mum myself, I would find that really off-putting.”
Instead, Amy decided to attack the issue head on. She said, “I wanted to create something that would educate children about nutrition, thus improving their confidence.”
The result is FITkidz Academy, which will launch in January. Parents will be able to enroll their children in a variety of workshops designed to teach children in a creative and fun way about what is good for their bodies and minds. They will learn skills such as choosing healthy foods, cooking as a family, and more. Sessions are designed to be given in 7-week blocks, but private bookings tailored to individual needs are available upon request.
Amy is confident that the academy will prove both fun and educational as her methods are already tried and tested with her nine-year-old son, Rio.
“Rio is far from perfect but one thing I’m really proud of is how self-assured he has become,” said Amy.
“He knows how to cook healthy dishes, which I’ve been trialing for the Academy, and it gives him a real sense of purpose.”
Rio will also be helping launch the Academy in more visible ways. Amy confided, “FITkidz is a new concept, and we realise people might need help understanding what it means in practice. So Rio and I are going to film some videos together to show parents what FITkidz is all about.”
A large part of Amy’s motivation for FITkidz comes from the belief that once children can make educated choices, they become happier in themselves. “Cooking is now only an option in schools, but I think it should be compulsory. Youngsters are leaving school with no idea of how to put a healthy meal together.”
Whilst parents will have to pay a fee to enroll their child in the classes, a portion of the profits will go to subsidizing spots for less privileged youngsters. “I’m all too aware that, while the lessons are critical for all children, not every parent can afford to send their child to FITkidz every weekend! That’s why we have built in our charity arm, to raise funds,” Amy said. “I don’t think any child should miss out, so we’re currently getting a curriculum together to provide free workshops in schools. I’m hoping we can reach as many children as possible regardless of background.”
For more details on FITkidz Academy, contact Amy Mullen via email here