Thousands of girls inspired and empowered to help peers to be more active

The Lord Mayor with some of the local girls taking part in the Girls Active Programme.

The Girls Active Inspiration Day has returned for a third year in Northern Ireland, aimed at growing a budding network of girls who are inspired to become role models and leaders – as well as encouraging their peers to become more physically active.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council along with Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council partnered with the Girls Active programme – an award-winning programme developed by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust and delivered in partnership with Women in Sport – and helped to engage thousands of girls.

Thanks to continued funding from the Department for Communities through Sport Northern Ireland as part of the ‘Active Fit and Sporty’ project, the Girls Active programme has continued to expand each year, with up to 30 schools now receiving support from the Youth Sport Trust through Girls Active.

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “We believe that all young people should have the opportunity to achieve their potential in life through sport. The Girls Active programme is about developing girls’ leadership skills and empowering them to become positive role models who will actively engage and encourage their peers to become more active themselves.

“We know that Girls Active has made a positive change within the 30 schools already involved in Northern Ireland – not only increasing levels of participation and improving attitudes towards PE and sport – but also improving their confidence to take part. We are delighted to continue to expand our reach alongside our partners.”

To date, the programme has successfully engaged 3,000 girls across 30 post-primary schools in the two partnered council areas, to improve attitudes towards PE and physical activity so girls can lead more physically active lifestyles.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Councillor Julie Flaherty commented: “We are delighted to see that the Girls Active programme has continued to build on the successes of the first two years to actively engage more girls to become physically active within the Council area. The development of girls as leaders and positive role models amongst our schools has already had a positive impact both on participation levels and attitudes towards PE and physical activity and I wish all girls every success on their leadership journey”.

Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Officer Antoinette McKeown said: “Sport Northern Ireland is proud to be supporting the Girls Active programme as part of the Active Fit Sporty project, funded by Department for Communities. The drop out amongst girls and women from sport is well documented and that is why this initiative is so important, to ensure girls are actively engaged with the design and delivery of activities that will lead to improved opportunities that appeal to all girls, so that they can enjoy and excel at sport”.

The Inspiration Day empowered and inspired a network of girls to take part in more PE and physical activity and have the skills and confidence to engage their peers on returning to school.

The girls took part in a range of workshops focusing on leadership, marketing and action planning to better prepare them for their role as Girls Active Leaders. They also participated in team building exercises and activities such as boxercise, dance and ultimate frisbee to develop the skills needed to work with others.

As a result, the girls will now act as role models and leaders within their school setting with the skills and confidence to encourage other girls to become more active through improved marketing and the delivery of new activities which appeal to a wider range of girls.