Pilot scheme asks girls to plan physical activity


A Sheffield school is playing a key role in a new campaign aimed at encouraging girls to be physically active and improve their levels of fitness.

The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) is running a pilot with year 7 girls at Handsworth Grange Community Sports College, helping them to design their own programme of physical activity.

A study carried out by the WSFF indicates that girls engage with sport in different ways to boys and that the delivery of sport in schools can be shaped to have greater appeal to girls.

Nearly 100 year 7 girls from Handsworth Grange attended a launch event at Sheffield University last month, where they took part in a host of activities – from football and netball to boxing and African dance.

They also attended sessions on what makes a good role model and discussed what their ideal fitness sessions would comprise. 

The 10-week pilot is being run in partnership with Virgin Active, whose Active Inspiration campaign aims to address rising levels of youth inactivity.

Research carried out by Virgin Active has shown that one in six girls never do any vigorous activity, such as hockey or tennis, outside school – and 13 per cent never do any during school hours.

“Our year 7 girls were very positive,” said Steph McCoy, subject leader for PE at Handsworth Grange.

“The majority of them enjoy PE but don’t take part in activities after school. The bigger picture is how we can develop an out-of-hours programme to attract more girls, whether it’s yoga, Pilates, cycling or boxercise.

“The aim is that girls will become active and stay active throughout their lives. We want them to find activities and sports that are enjoyable and fun and will help them be active, healthy and happy forever.”

Handsworth Grange has been proactive on this issue for quite a while. The school runs single-sex PE lessons, has set-up a student voice group called Girls Get Active, and is launching a Girls on Bikes initiative to encourage girls to cycle with their mothers and sisters.


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