Community groups getting more women and girls active
By Sported | 8th March 2022
By Sported | 8th March 2022
From our research with CHILDWISE, funded by the London Marathon Charitable Foundation, 37% of girls identified that they prefer activity from outside of school settings. We caught up with three group leaders in the Sported network who have previously been involved in our women and girls’ programmes. As a result of this involvement, both groups have been able to begin dedicated teenage girls’ classes, creating an environment for the girls to thrive and grow their confidence.
The Jam Place is a not-for-profit dance school based in Surrey. Their sessions are open for all abilities, making them a staple in their community for all ages, girls and boys, as well as for those with SEN needs. Joining the Sported network in 2019, they participated in our Girls Unite project, receiving funding and support from a Sported volunteer, as well as a grant from the Always #KeepHerPlaying campaign to increase participation of women and girls in sport.
As a result of this funding, group leaders Helen and Cass explain that they were able to start their classes for teenage girls, a class they had always wanted to run, recognising the importance of having a space for girls this age to feel comfortable, meet others, and feel completely themselves.
“With our teen class, we love what it brings out in the girls. That age is so awkward… we have girls coping with a variety of physical and emotional challenges in their lives… when they go to that dance class, none of them (apart from one) have real dance experience and are all learning for the first time.”
Cass explains that the sessions provide more than just dance training, allowing the girls to create relationships and friendships, as well as opening up about their mental health and wellbeing.
“We really see them open up. It becomes a bit of a therapy session whether that’s in our dance or drama classes. They feel like they can share anything and everything with us.”
The teen classes focus on strengthening the girls, learning poise and refining the technique rather than adding stress with exams or being perfect. Helen and Cass explain that the beauty of their teen class is that there is no embarrassment, and the girls can truly be themselves while connecting with others like them. Especially after the lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw them move their classes online, the importance of this weekly face-to-face connection is incredibly important for the girls.
“We get them strengthened. We’re not trying to get the next West End performer, but we’re trying to say, you can be strong girls. We try and get the best out of them.”
Well known in their community, they have a loyal participant base, teaching children through the generations. With aspirations for the future to create a community hub for all ages, The Jam Place has a brilliant connection with all of their participants, truly showing the benefits of physical activity and dance that extend beyond the dance studio.
Splitz Gymnastics is an acrobatics gymnastics club based in rural County Fermanagh Northern Ireland providing gymnastics for children of from 4- 18 years old. With an ethos to “create a lifelong love of sports through gymnastics”, group leader Jenny has been previously involved with our Engage Her project which shared skills and support to retain women and girls in physical activity, and was more recently involved with the Always #KeepHerPlaying campaign.
After re-locating to Northern Ireland, Jenny saw a need to provide a platform for children who enjoyed gymnastics. With a focus on collaboration, as a result of funding, they too have been able to create a class just for teenage girls.
“We listen to their opinions and views about what they would like to get from their sessions and plan our timetables around this. We don’t just offer gymnastics to this age group but also look ahead to their futures by running a programme called ‘Leadership Academy’ where our young people can volunteer within the club environment and attend various courses such as first aid, coaching and judging all of which open doors to future employment.”
Jenny explains the importance of the group, not just teaching about physical health but also to improving mental health and life skills. In addition, they also offer sessions and advice around nutrition, first aid, mental health, inclusive games and what makes a great coach to help them develop their employability skills and make new friends.
Many of the girls who began as participants have gone on to complete coaching courses and subsequently gone on to paid or voluntary employment with the club or local area. The girls were not all loud and confident, but had a real passion to help others.
Having recently won the British Gymnastics Club of the year in the UK for their work supporting their young participants over lockdown, they will be moving to a dedicated facility to continue to deliver sessions and support young women and girls in the local area through gymnastics.
With 1 in 3 girls dropping out of sport after puberty, Always donated to Sported to provide small grants of £200 and equipment packs to Sported members, delivering vital services for young women and girls in their community.
Grants of £200 have been awarded to 290 groups with a further 320 going out in March. This is the largest number of members we have supported through a funded programme.
250 members have been sent an equipment pack and sanitary items, with a further 140 planned over the next month.
In 2020, Sported partnered with Barclays to release an emergency grant for select members delivering football activities to young people, particularly those working with girls. The funding support is directed at helping these community organisations to get through the Covid-19 period and develop their football activities to make them more accessible to women and girls.
24 grants of £1,500 awarded to community groups across the UK delivering football activities to girls. A total of 765 female participants took part in the programme.