Sixty girls, aged 12 -15, from post-primary schools across Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, recently packed into Craigavon Leisure Centre for the inaugural Girls Active Inspiration Day.
Girls Active is an initiative from the Youth Sport Trust charity which is run in partnership with Women in Sport.
Well established in England, the programme aims to tackle the declining participation in physical activity by adolescent girls and its associated implications for health, wellbeing and academic attainment.
Now it is being piloted in Northern Ireland thanks to funding from the Department for Communities through Sport Northern Ireland and being delivered in partnership with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. Ten schools are involved in the project, which will see the girls gain leadership skills to help boost sports participation at their schools. At the Inspiration Day the girls took part in a range of different activities including boxercise and jive as well as having the opportunity to join workshops that focused on leadership, marketing and action planning.
The action plans developed on the day will help the girls to offer new activities at their school which they believe will have an impact on the attitude of their peers towards being active both inside and outside school.
When the project concludes in March it will have engaged withover 1,500 girls and it is hoped that the schools involved will continue to offer girls the opportunity to influence the activities on offer in school.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield said: “The value of physical activity in ensuring that everyone maintains good health and a good quality of life is well documented, as is the drop out of girls from sport across key life transitions.”
Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said: “We are delighted to have extended our girls Active programme to include Northern Ireland.”
Ruth Holdaway, Chief Executive, Women in Sport said “Women in Sport is delighted to be working alongside the Youth Sport Trust to pilot Girls Active in Northern Ireland, which builds on our existing partnership.
“We believe it is imperative girls should be both leading and taking part in sport and physical activity in a way that aligns with their values and motivations.
“Through this project we are confident we will inspire girls and their teachers to think differently.”