Olly’s Olympics

A 40 minute play with accompanying drama workshop and resource pack which looks at issues around diet, exercise and childhood obesity. (Aimed at years 5 – 7 with the intention of accessing both parental and child audiences; devised Summer 2012)

Does parental love always mean giving your children what they want? What are the long term consequences for health, in relation to attitudes laid down in childhood? What should a parent do when they are informed that their child is very overweight and how calculating are children in utilising ‘pester power’ to control the adults around them?

’Olly’s Olympics’ focuses on the relationship between ‘greasy spoon’ café owner Olive Swanson and the love of her life, her 10 year old grandson Sammy whom she has brought up on her own since the age of four. During the course of the play and drama workshop which follows it, we accompany Grandma Olly’s own ‘Olympic Challenge’ – to alter the unhealthy eating habits and aversion to exercise of her grandson, Sammy.

But what constitutes good parenting when children and adults so often make poor choices in relation to diet and exercise?

Parent and carers make the major decisions in families regarding diet and exercise yet often seem unable or unmotivated to take responsible control of these issues, when they need to, with their children. Equally children, from a very young age, understand how to manipulate the adults around them through ‘pester power’ and to gain what they want, even if it leads to chronic poor health and a potential life time of illness.

‘Olly’s Olympics’ targets both children and their parent/carers and addresses many issues regarding the importance of diet and exercise and how this knowledge can be utilised across the generations to promote good mental and physical health, not only for the individual but for the family as a whole. The narrative addresses a cross generational section of family life and invites family members of all ages and backgrounds to reassess their behaviour in the light of enhanced understanding of the issues raised.

Leah Cashill as Olive – 2012 tour

Audience Comments

Teacher Responses

‘Olly’s Olympics was a wonderful play which raised many thoughts and discussions amongst our students. The issues tackled by the latest Pintsize Theatre production were hard hitting, as always, but relevant and pertinent to the age group. In spite of this the play was well enjoyed by all and it played an integral part in our annual PSHE program. Thanks to all at Pintsize – another great production; we look forward to the next.’
Simon Robinson, Deputy Head, Annie Holgate Junior School, Hucknall

‘Once again thanks for a brilliant performance. The resource pack was great and we intend to use the facts and figures in display work around the school…..Great to see ‘drama’ rather than a pantomime.’
Kathleen Foley, Yr 6 teacher, Berridge Junior School

‘It was a thoroughly entertaining and informative piece of theatre, it engaged the wide range of our Yr 7s, their questioning of the issues of health and personal responsibility, showed a good understanding from the performance and the workshop. Their follow up work with me also showed a keenness to follow up the issues….It was good to see that the focus was on a boy’s problem of obesity and health… these important social issues need to be accessed by pupils through external agencies as well as schools and more of this is needed.’
Elaine Marr, Head of PHSCE Magnus, C of E School, Newark


Student Responses

‘Really great play, as you can tell, a lot of effort has gone into this. I liked how they had more than 1 part each. Its very well set out and I enjoyed every part of it. It set out an excellent example and gave great advice and warned us for the future. I loved the end where we asked questions, it was like the Jeremy Kyle Show! THANKS.’
Willow Farm Primary, Gedling

‘I’ve learned not to be worried about how I look but how healthy I am.’
Ambleside Primary, Broxtowe

‘Group 4 really enjoyed the play. The play was fun. We learnt that Sam ate too many unhealthy foods. His mama asked him to eat healthy foods like bananas and broccoli. The play made us think about eating more healthily and to do more exercise.’
Foxwood Special School, Bramcote

Our thanks go out to Nottingham City Healthy Schools, staff and students at Nottingham University Samworth Academy, Ambleside Primary and Nottingham City’s school nurse service for their invaluable support for this project during the 2011 tour. Many thanks also to reception class teacher Katie Appleyard for her insights, advice and assistance.

‘Olly’s Olympics’ is featured in a report by ITN news.

This project has been funded by Boots Charitable Trust and thanks go to them for their brilliant support in enabling us to address these difficult issues.

Leah Cashill as Olive and James Appleyard as Sammy – 2012 tour