When considering how to best use funding for the Children & Young People Partner Programme, the Leap team focused on how to optimise impact. We wanted to engage the highest number of individuals, specifically those who are under-represented in current sports provisions. The challenge was how to get children and young people active when this wasn’t a priority for them.
How to reach those with no interest in sport
Starting a new youth activity group can be time-consuming and costly. Finding a suitable venue, staff and covering the set-up costs are the first steps, but you then have to convince young people to attend. The children that do turn up are most likely to be those already engaged in school teams and sports clubs; those from active families that encourage participation. Leap’s priority is to tackle inactivity and social exclusion. These young people are not going to be looking for a new sports group to join and are unlikely to turn up if they did stumble across one. Rather than expecting children and young people to find and join community physical activity sessions, we decided that we needed to bring activity sessions to them. Our idea was to link with existing community-based youth groups. Our support and funding could provide additional positive experiences for young people. Our first step was to work closely with Buckinghamshire Council’s Youth team to see if this approach could work They were all in favour of our plan, so we collaborated on ways to integrate physical activity into existing sessions. The Youth Team put us in contact with several groups that would welcome additional input to get their attendees active.
Elmhurst youth club gets boxing
Threatened with closure, the running of Elmhurst Youth Club had been taken on by a group of local mums. Whilst willing to volunteer their time, the mums felt ill-equipped to fulfil the attendees’ requests for activity sessions. Working with the Buckinghamshire Council’s Youth Team and the volunteers, Leap arranged and funded local professional boxer, Linus, to run a series of training sessions at the club.
“Yesterday was great!!! Linus did amazing work; great engaging with children and young people. He even signed some gloves and some young people brought their own equipment. My boys came home and went direct to YouTube to find him in action! Everyone is really excited!!!!” – Parent Leader at Elmhurst Youth Centre
Linus is an engaging coach, who gets everyone involved, so it was no surprise that the sessions were popular. He promotes the importance of fitness, focus and determination and has clearly been a role model to many of the attendees. We are delighted that this partnership is continuing through the summer months.
Reengaging youth at the Chesham Centre
Some disruptive young people were causing problems at Chesham Youth Centre and staff were struggling to manage the situation. They were keen to find new ways to address the challenges and make the club enjoyable for all to attend. Leap established connections between the Oasis Partnership, two experienced coaches and the Youth Group Leaders. Collectively, access to a MUGA pitch and hall was arranged, along with physical activity coaches and a link with Chesham Boxing Club. The coaches were keen to give the young people choices about what activities they wanted to try. This resulted in varied sessions that included circuits, football, dodgeball and boxing.
“Through conversations, I would say that most of these young people were inactive. There was one lad who told me he really enjoyed doing activities, but that he doesn’t usually do so as he’s shy but we got him involved and loves it.” – Lewis, Coach
Youth leaders were delighted to see that previously disengaged young people took part, stayed for the full hour’s session and returned the following week. The structured sessions had a positive effect and no individual needed to be excluded from a session for disruptive behaviour. They had regular attendance from 18 young people and were surprised that the biggest take-up for boxing sessions came from the girls.
“Really enjoyed the opportunity and would like to thank all involved in making it a possibility. I think Chesham definitely needs this youth club open and suitable for the young adults. It keeps them safe, engaged and off the streets.” – Lewis, Coach
With the activity sessions proving a hit, the group have been exploring options for ongoing funding from the local community board.
New opportunities at Amersham Youth Club
A state-of-the-art lifestyle centre, Chiltern Lifestyle Centre, has recently opened in Amersham. The local youth group wanted to encourage their group of largely non-sporty attendees to make use of this facility and had already arranged facility hire for a year. Leap was able to fund The Fitness Garden to engage the young people in fun and active sessions. The youth leaders coordinated and participated in all sessions too. This helped them to develop new training ideas and techniques that built confidence in leading sessions when the funded coach was no longer available. Initially, the young people picked one or two activities to join, but as the project developed, everyone started taking part in everything on offer. In addition to tackling inactivity, the coach also reported increased social interaction and higher levels of respect for each other among the group. Success with this group has encouraged the youth leaders to expand the offer to other year groups. In planning how to promote the sessions, they have worked with local schools and other community partners. This has resulted in the development of a mobile app, where details of upcoming activities can be marketed to young people.
“As always, we are extremely grateful to Leap for giving us the opportunity to collaborate with local partners. Amersham Youth do things very well with the resources that they have. I believe collaboration will help build on the platform they have built over the years in Amersham.” – Benson Miyoba, The Fitness Garden
Collaborative approach brings positive experiences to young people
This community-based approach enabled Leap to allocate Sport England funding to boost existing youth provision. By integrating activity sessions into existing groups, we reached inactive and ethnically diverse young people. Feedback shows that the benefits extend beyond improved levels of fitness, with increases in confidence, social skills, behaviour and respect. All parties were keen to continue to offer physical activities and had great ideas for sustaining the sessions.