The Girls Active programme has been running in our school for three years. In that time, we have had two takeover days, created a Girls Active after school club that has introduced hundreds of girls from all ages to new sports and have established the Girls Active initiative into three local primary schools. These achievements are incredible and I am proud to say I have played a part in all of it.
My Girls Active journey started when I was in Year 9; I was chosen to go with other girls from my school to a Girls Active training camp day at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. Here we were able to try new sports, like volleyball and boxercise, but also get ideas and pointers on how we could lead them. We then had an afternoon planning session, in which we discussed what and how we were going to bring it back to our school. We decided an afterschool club only for girls would enable girls to feel more comfortable in trying new sports and hopefully take away the element of judgement which so many girls fear as they go through puberty.
When we went back to school we planned and delivered assemblies raising awareness of our new club. This brought us as a group of leaders closer and taught us key skills like leadership, time management, presentation, resilience and confidence. As we continued, more and more girls were coming to our club, so many in fact we had to recruit some new leaders as well. Just in time for our first big takeover day. We created a giant obstacle course around our field and hired an inflatable one for the sports hall. This was a hit, not only did we get the opportunity to run the girls PE lessons for the day but we also had a turn out of just over 60 people afterschool at our club.
From there Girls Active just grew. The next year more leaders, some old some new, were taken to the training day where once again there was a new range of sports from rugby to Zumba. Our new group of leaders and myself continued the club with more and more participation, especially from Year 7s. More assemblies took place and the PE department continued to support us.
But, this was the year that we wanted to grow the programme. We visited three local primary schools, once there we lead assemblies to those girls. Then we talked to them about their likes and dislikes of sport, the main dislike being the boys. As a group we explained to them and showed them that they shouldn’t let the boys have all the power in sports, that whatever the boys could do the girls could do too (if not better). We did teamwork activities with them and then at the end listened to the feedback they had for us. This took the leadership and confidence we had learnt and pushed it to new levels.
I was then extremely lucky to be offered the opportunity to go to the Saracens grounds in London with selected leaders from each of these primary schools. They were able to learn what they could do in their school and how Girls Active could help them while I learnt, along with a few other of our leaders, how we could mentor them to make it was just as successful in their schools as it was in ours. We were glad to hear that these girls went back to their schools and with incredible confidence delivered their own assemblies and created their own clubs. Personally, I am immensely proud of those girls only aged nine and ten for having the courage to create another age group of girls enjoying and partaking in sports.
Our school and the leaders then had meetings with people like the CEO of the Youth Sport Trust. We were able to explain just how positively the Girls Active programme had affected not just us but the girls and the attitude to girls taking part in sport in our school. We also had interviews with the people who ran the training days at Stoke Mandeville asking how we think it could be improved.
We were really happy to see at the next training day that, with another variety of sports from cheerleading to rocketball, our ideas had also been put into place. There were talks on leadership, marketing and mental health. I found the mental health course extremely helpful and interesting. It talked about how to recognise the signs of people who may need help but also how to help and what to do in a situation that most people our age aren’t really equipped for. Another one of the many skills that this incredible programme has taught me.
I have been given so many spectacular opportunities as a result of Girls Active and I am thrilled to have been part of it.
Another unforgettable opportunity is when I was not only shortlisted but to my surprise won the leader of the year award and was further honoured when I found out we had also won the group award. This was only furthered by the chance of being able to go to the House of Lords to the award ceremony. That night we met so may inspiring women and girls in sports and as prizes will be able to watch and meet many more.
Girls Active has changed me as a person; I am more confident and have been on an incredible journey which I only hope will continue. I have received countless opportunities to test myself and try new things. I have made new friends and inspired new girls, for all of that I can only say thank you to everyone that has been involved. And the only thing left to say is the future looks bright for women and girls in sports.