Born in Bradford Family Festival: a weekend of fun for all the family.

Every two years Born in Bradford hosts a Family Festival to say thank you to the families that make up the study, to tell them about what Born in Bradford has been doing and to have some fun together. This year’s Festival happened over the weekend of 22nd and 23rd October and featured the first appearance in Bradford of the BiB Bus, which those who came to City Park on Saturday and Sunday will know is not a bus! It also used the Margaret Macmillan Tower that many Bradfordians will know better as the former Public Library (it’s right next to the National Media Museum and has a rather scary statue of a child outside it.)

The festival theme was “All About Me” and lots of families came along to have a go at science experiments, to use up some energy in the play area, to have their face painted, to hear about what other organisations are doing in Bradford to help everyone stay healthy and to have their picture taken.   They could also catch up with what BiB researchers have been finding out and hear about new studies that will look at how all those babies who joined BiB are doing now they are growing up and going to school. BiB, working with Better Start Bradford and other local partners and supported by the Big Lottery, is also in the early stages of a new study called BiB Better Start. This will involve starting with babies again, this time those who live in just a part of the city (Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton). This new study will look at what helps to give these babies the best start in life. People at the festival were able to hear about these new things and ask questions about what they were for and what they involved.

The Big BiB Research Bus will become a well-known feature of Bradford from January 2017 when it will start appearing at different places around the city as we invite our BiB families to come in so we can catch up with how they are doing.  We will use the Bus as a place to take new measurements to see how children have grown, to ask children and parents about those things that have changed in their lives since we last saw them, perhaps there are new children in the family, perhaps they are in a new home, perhaps Mum and Dad have different jobs. We have a scanner machine that can tell us about how bones are developing (it only takes a few minutes and you do it fully clothed). The Festival gave us a chance to invite people to have a look around. Everyone seemed surprised by how much room was on-board! It’s not a bus, it’s really a lorry like the ones you may have seen NHS Screening Service using and the side of it can open up when its parked so it’s much wider than any lorry you see on the roads.

On Saturday about 350 people came to the festival, almost everyone visited the Bus and also joined in the activities at Margaret Macmillan Tower. There were two places to have your photo taken, one involved choosing things from a big basket that might show what you want to be when you grow up. Because we don’t always know there was a chance to have four goes – as long as you could do this in a few seconds. Your first photo might feature you holding a saxophone, then a rapid change to have a stethoscope around our neck, then change again and this time maybe a police helmet!  The other photos also involved you being energetic, this time being snapped mid-air as you leaped as high as you could. The Lord Mayor of Bradford visited the festival and he was photographed jumping in the air! (These activities seemed almost as popular with BiB staff as with children at the festival).

Sunday was a bit quieter but those who came seemed to have a very good time. Fewer people meant plenty of time and space to do experiments like mashing up strawberries and testing DNA, checking on how clean your hands were or finding out what chromosomes are and what they do. As on Saturday there were lots of children at the Festival who had enjoyed the lovely face-painting on offer. We had visitors from TV, radio stations and newspapers, all keen to hear about the progress being made by Born in Bradford.

Thank you to all those Bradford families who came to the Festival and to the many people who worked hard to make it happen.  We were lucky that we had (mostly) dry and sunny days although standing outside the bus was a bit cold! I hope we can all meet again in two years’ time when we will have another Family Festival.

Neil Small, Born in Bradford and the University of Bradford.

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