Today marks the beginning of Women’s Sport Week! To celebrate we take a look at how Sported member All In Youth Project is using dance to celebrate diversity and get girls active.
All In Youth Project in Middlesbrough is a voluntary organisation founded in 2010 in response to the lack of ethnic minority young people accessing positive youth activities outside of school and family events. It supports the personal and social development of young people aged 11-25, from – but not exclusive to – Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) backgrounds, using a range of activities, youth clubs and events.
The majority of girl that attend All In Youth Project are Muslim. Once they leave school many find it difficult to exercise regularly due to a number of reasons, from most gyms being mixed-sex making participation difficult, to not feeling confident enough to join a class or sport group. Recognising this, All in Youth Project decided to set up a dance project called ‘Multi Culti’ which uses music and dances from around the world to engage young women in regular exercise.
Marsha Garratt, Project Leader, explains: “They wanted something relaxed and informal, where the focus wasn’t necessarily on fitness. Dance is a really great form of exercise. You work muscles you didn’t even know you had! We use dance as a tool to break down discrimination. The dances we learn reflect the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of our members. So far we have been learning dances from; Pakistan, Sri Lanka, USA and Jamaica. Music and dance are brilliant tools to learn about, and celebrate diversity and all the young women really enjoy our dance sessions and the fact that they can take pride in their cultural heritage whilst getting fit.”
— All In Youth (@all_in_youth) September 17, 2016
The weekly classes will culminate in a flash-dance in the middle of Middlesbrough town centre, where the group will perform the routine for the first time in front of their friends, family and the general public. “It’s a chance for us to celebrate diversity, promote our project and celebrate the town we live in.”
‘Multi Culti’ has proved to be the perfect addition to the organisation, with the programme being used to sign-post and encourage its members to use some of its other youth services, and vice versa.
Secrets of Success:
• Follow their lead – “We decided to put something in place that the girls wanted, would engage with and, most importantly, would find fun and allow them to celebrate their ethnic backgrounds. Ask what they want. They will come up with ideas of incorporating physical activities in ways which are fun for them. When you do that you get much better engagement” says Marsha.
• Offer bespoke programmes adapted to their cultural and ethnic needs – “We have had to adapt some of the dance routines so they’re suitable and the girls feel comfortable. For the young women who are Muslim we give them extra-large hoodies, so it’s not tight fitting. They’re able to dance in the Hijab if they want and some wear face masks as well.”
• “Offering taster sessions is a good way to get young people talking about fitness and helps to spread word-of-mouth locally.”
For more information about All In Youth Project, please visit:
Showcase how your group is getting more young women and girls physically active and playing sport by sending us your video clips, which we’ll share on Twitter and Facebook.
Celebrate Women’s Sport Week using the hashtag #WSW2016