Project PEDHSC25

Empower Evaluation

The University of Hertfordshire collaborated with Watford FC Sports & Education Trust to evaluate Empower, a 24-week project that aims to improve the mental health of young people aged 9-12 through the use of physical activity.


Up to 1 in 8 children in Hertfordshire have a clinically diagnosable mental health issue. There has been an increase in the number of young people who are currently in employment, school and colleges who need support with mental health and wellbeing, and so this project aimed to equip young people (alongside teachers, parents and sports coaches) with the skills and knowledge needed to develop healthy and lasting coping strategies. The aim of the Empower programme is to improve young people’s wellbeing by helping them to manage their emotions and understanding their triggers, increasing participant’s resilience and protective factors and offering a further support network for these young people.

Expected outcomes for young people participating on the project:

  • Improved mental wellbeing
  • Improved social support networks
  • Demonstrating healthier lifestyle choices

Project Aims

To understand the impact of this programme, researchers undertook an evaluation of the programme with the aim of informing recommendations on its future development.

Research questions:

  • How does Empower support children and families?
  • What are the enablers and barriers to engagement and retention?
  • How is Empower being implemented?

Project Activity 

  • Evidence review
  • Secondary analysis of monitoring data collected by Empower
  • Interviews and focus groups with children and young people, parents/carers, Empower staff and referral agencies.

Anticipated Impact

Overall children and their parents/carers reported positive experiences of the programme and marked improvements in the children’s mental wellbeing related to three areas: understanding and communicating emotions, confidence and self-efficacy and emotional control.

Papers and resources

Read the related summary report. Entitled ‘Empower Evaluation: Summary Report'

Who was involved?

Principal investigator: Dr Louca-Mai Brady, University of Hertfordshire

  • Dr Han Newman, University of Hertfordshire 
  • Prof. Kathryn Almack, University of Hertfordshire 

Contact us

Dr Louca-Mai Brady,