The Guernsey Sports Commission is committed to trying to make sport more inclusive and helping to reduce some of the barriers to participation.
Inclusion is one of the eight workstreams included in the Commission’s recently published 5-Year Action Plan
One of the best places to start this work is in school and a great example of encouraging children to try a new sport is taking place at Amherst Primary.
The school runs a range of sports clubs but staff were concerned that some children were still not accessing these clubs. Working with the Sports Commission and the Guernsey Gymnastics Centre the school is now running three hugely popular gym clubs – two at lunchtimes for the younger children and one after school for the older pupils with more than 60 children taking part in total.
‘Gymnastics requires completely different skills and it doesn’t involve a ball which is attractive to some of our children, said teacher Vicki Travers.
‘They don’t know what it’s all about and they just want to try it. They think it’s really cool.’
Scott Little from the Guernsey Gymnastics Centre is helping to deliver the sessions.
‘It’s all about making gymnastics fun,’ he said.
And it certainly looked it! From pretending to be wiggly worms and kangaroos to learning the tuck, pike and straight positions the children were definitely enjoying being active and learning some new skills.
More than 90% of the children who attend the school gym club don’t attend any other school clubs and after 5 weeks the teachers are beginning to notice a difference.
‘The children are more focused and able to sustain better listening during the afternoon,’ said Vicki.
‘It is also helping to overcome their worries about starting something new and sticking to the commitment they have made to attend the club.’
The school is also really pleased to have the specialist support from the Sports Commission’s Development Officer Steph Batiste as well as Stuart. Teachers have been watching the club sessions to help them feel more confident in delivering the sessions themselves in the future.
Steph hopes that trying gymnastics at school will lead to some of the children joining an out of school club in the future.
‘We know that it can sometimes be difficult for parents to afford to pay for their children to attend sports clubs or be able to manage getting them there and back but there are lots of things the Sports Commission can do to help. We want all children and young people to be as active as possible and have a positive experience of sport,’ said Steph. ‘These gymnastics clubs at Amherst are a great way to start.’