Teenage Girls Get Active in Harlow

Girls at Passmores academy, Harlow, have completed a 20-week programme designed to promote the benefits of an active lifestyle and encourage more involvement.

The programme, titled ThisSchoolGirlCan, a play on the hugely successful, national, Sport England ThisGirlCan campaign was funded through Active Essex’s Satellite Club, Fit4Life – Spearheaded by TV doctor Zoe Williams and delivered by social enterprise, Sport For Confidence.

The year nine girls, aged 13-14 years, were invited to take part in the programme by their teachers and attended a weekly, hour long, after school session throughout the 20-week term. The sessions, delivered by social enterprise, Sport For Confidence and fully supported by the school’s PE department, used a mix of practical and discussion based applications to explore the benefits of an active lifestyle and how it can help young women cope with everyday issues.

Sinead Kelly, Occupational Therapist at Sport For Confidence, says: “As girls enter their teenage years, many stop being active. The programme explores the reasons behind this and gets the girls thinking about the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle, whilst also enabling them to practically try a range of activities including; swimming, climbing, yoga, dance, dodgeball, badminton, boccia, curling and basketball. The sessions were interactive and fully inclusive. Focus was on fun and enjoyment rather than performance and competition.”

The first 8-weeks of the programme was hosted by Passmore academy, whilst the remaining sessions took place at various local leisure facilities. Sophie Banks, PE Teacher at Passmores academy, says: “Taking the girls off site, out of the school environment, to enjoy sporting activities took some organising but was hugely beneficial. Many young people’s only experience of sport is via the education system. Showcasing alternative environments provides new perspectives. Physical activity engagement can’t be achieved via a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s about providing information, education and opportunity to promote the many opportunities on offer.”

This was the first programme of its kind to be run in Harlow and followed a successful model completed at Lower academy in Basildon, Essex. Sinead, adds: “Following the success of these two, initial programmes, we plan, with the support of funding partner, Active Essex, to roll out to other schools. Keeping young people, especially girls, engaged in activity is absolutely crucial if we are to effect positive change into adulthood.

“It has been amazing to watch the girls grow in confidence and self-belief as the programme progressed. I am so proud of everything they have accomplished during this programme and very much hope that the girls involved will continue to enjoy all the benefits of an active lifestyle as they move through their teens and into their adult years.”

recent study by the Youth Sport Trust reported that physically active girls are happier and more resilient than those who are not physically active, reiterating the importance of programmes like #thisschoolgirlcan. The report also linked being active with a wide range of benefits including: significantly increased happiness, confidence, resilience, ambition, empathy and a willingness to pursue new ideas.

Commenting on the initiative, Hayley Chapman, Relationship Manager, North Essex, Thematic Leader for Inclusion, Active Essex, says: ““Active Essex is pleased to support this initiative reaching out to girls. It really fits with our strategy to get 1 million people active across the county and it’s so important that we inspire young women so that physical activity becomes part of their normal, everyday lives as they get older”.


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