ALMT Grants Officer, Kate Richardson, visited SportInspired’s Festival at Poplar Baths in February 2023. Over 150 Year 4 children from three local schools attended this event and were able to to experience six different sports and activities. A prize was on offer for the team with the most points, but an even bigger prize for team spirit!
SportInspired exists so that every child, regardless of their background, can develop the confidence and courage to follow their dreams. Children growing up in poverty are three times more likely to suffer mental health issues and twice as likely to face obesity than their more affluent peers. These children are less likely to be active, less likely to achieve high grades and more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour. By introducing children to a variety of physical activities, SportInspired hopes to give these children healthier, happier futures.
Rich Raynes, CEO of SportInspired, explained that there is a golden opportunity for engagement around the age of 9, when children are open to trying new things and before they have built pre-conceptions about sport and/or their abilities. Exposing them to a range of options at this age can help them to discover an activity that suits them and which they find fun. His aim is to demonstrate the diversity of sports and show that any physical activity is beneficial and rewarding. All the young people were encouraged to take part, including those with disabilities or Special Educational Needs. Those who needed to take a break from the noise and action were able to do so. The teachers and coaches worked together to create a fun, upbeat and inclusive atmosphere at the event.
It was clear that the children really enjoyed the Festival and were willing to try different activities – even those outside their comfort zone: shy boys, hanging back from the dance class, were suddenly inspired to break-dance in the middle of the group; previously quiet girls pulled out the stops for possession of the rugby ball and the team sports encouraged the best kind of competitive camaraderie.
The awards ceremony at the end of the Festival recognised the children’s sporting achievements but stressed that their enthusiasm and team spirit were even more valuable. They all received certificates acknowledging their participation and all were celebrated as winners for their efforts and engagement.
By the end of the day, the children had made new friends, learned new skills and clearly had a great day. Their energy and enthusiasm were infectious and even I was persuaded to have go, along with some of the teachers from the schools and a team of corporate volunteers from UBS.
SportInspired lived up to its name and enabled the children to experience the fun, camaraderie and sense of purpose sport can create, with so many benefits to last a lifetime.