Earlier this week The Telegraph launched its ‘Girls, Inspired’ campaign to encourage girls to participate in more physical activity at school. This comes at a time when figures show a gender gap in participation and that millions of girls are missing out on the lifelong benefits of sport.
The value of physical activity for all children is well known and includes health, emotional and academic benefits. But there are big differences in rates of participation between girls and boys, and the amount of PE time available is also being reduced in many secondary schools.
Research by Sport England shows there are 2.3 million children and young people who are not active enough, and that only 14 percent of girls aged between 5 and 16 are achieving the recommended daily level of physical activity compared to 20 percent of boys. Alongside the problems to individuals of this inactivity, it also ultimately costs the NHS around £1 billion a year.
This campaign is part of the the Telegraph Women’s Sport editorial initiative and is supported by Judy Murray and several notable organisations, such as the Youth Sport Trust, Women In Sport, Sport England and FIFA.
In launching ‘Girls, Inspired’, The Telegraph called on the government to support schools in three key aims:
- Enshrine equality of opportunity to sport in the government’s School Sport Action Plan.
- New government guidelines, enforced by Ofsted, to put the benefits of physical education on a par with core subjects.
- Schools to empower girls and offer wider choice through ‘Girls Active’ and ‘This Girl Can’ schemes.
A new School Sport Action Plan will be published later this year by the Department of Education, while Ofsted is currently consulting on changes that could result in a greater focus on the benefits of PE.
“The big message is that enjoyment is the biggest driver of activity levels, and that active children are happier, more resilient and more trusting of other young people,” said Lisa O’Keefe, Sport England’s Director of Insight. “As children get older, they are losing their confidence and enjoyment of sporting activities and that is particularly true of girls and young women. We all have a role to play. The government’s School Sport Action Plan gives us a real opportunity.”
The campaign comes at an important time for boosting participation rates and also raising the profiles of women in sport. Boots – the health and beauty retailer and pharmacy chain – has just announced that it will sponsor the home nations and Republic of Ireland women’s football teams in a multi-million pound deal. Budweiser, Mars and Barclays have also recently invested in women’s football, with the high street bank putting £10 million into their deal with the Women’s Super League.
There are numerous initiatives in other sports too, such as British Cycling’s campaign to get one million more women on bikes by 2020 and rugby league’s campaign to get 21,000 women and girls playing by 2021.
Here at Streetspace we support all of these campaigns and want every student in the UK to have equal access to sport, regardless of gender, ability or background. Furthermore, we want to contribute in our own way and promote the provision of all-weather play spaces so that activity can continue for all children in any weather.