Little Fitness has a big heart for families on the edge

Social innovator Sinead Ryan’s Little Fitness strives to keep families in emergency accommodation in good physical and mental health.

Over the past few weeks, we have been shining a spotlight on social enterprises, to share more about the fascinating world of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in Ireland.

Last week we spoke to Anne-Marie Macken from Money Coaching Ireland. Before that we spoke to Aoife O’Brien of Happier at Work and the week before that we spoke to Hair Together, which has created a new lease of life for vulnerable teens. Before that we spoke to David Beakey from Amplify about how the social innovation start-up is supporting climate-conscious shoppers. And prior to that we spoke to Fiona Descoteaux, CEO of Innovate Communities, who talked about the important role that social enterprise and innovation plays in Irish society.

“Now more than ever we need to make sure these children are not forgotten. That’s why it’s so important to keep pushing forward or else there will be no change for these families”

This week we talk to Sinead Ryan from Little Fitness who is helping children and families in emergency accommodation and family hubs to stay fit in mind and body.

Describe your business/ social enterprise in a nutshell?

Little Fitness is a programme providing fun, inclusive educational fitness classes to children experiencing homelessness. The programme focuses on supporting children to reach physical milestones, to encourage social interaction amongst their peers, to allow children to take part in non – competitive activities, and to help build resilience and grow confidence. Little Fitness is inclusive for all children and families living in emergency accommodation, family hubs, and where children may come up against barriers in their community.

How did your business journey begin? Where did the idea come from and how did you start?  

My idea came from teaching a class in the private sector and two brothers attended the session who were experiencing homelessness. It got me thinking ‘are there more children living in these emergency accommodations not getting access to programmes?’ I had the opportunity to pilot the Little Fitness programme in Crosscare family hub, this allowed me to see if we could engage the families, if children were interested in participating and would it work in the emergency accommodation setting.

How has Innovate Communities supported your business?  

Innovate Communities has allowed Little Fitness the opportunity to attend The Social Innovation Hub, where there have been numerous networking opportunities. The mentoring has been invaluable to me both professionally and personally, allowing Little Fitness to stay focused and push forward with the business. The ongoing one to one support has kept Little Fitness moving forward after an extremely difficult year navigating through the pandemic.

Have you received any other support along the way?

Little Fitness has also received amazing support from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Social Impact Ireland.

Why is sustainability and having a social conscience important in business?  

Little Fitness is trying to bring about change for these families and children living in emergency accommodation. Now more than ever we need to make sure these children are not forgotten. That’s why it’s so important to keep pushing forward or else there will be no change for these families.

What is next for you and your business in 2022?

Connect with as many families and children in emergency accommodation. Some really Important collaborations to look forward too which will support Little Fitness journey.