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Jersey Sport launch ‘School to Sport’ initiative to break down barriers and get more children into sport

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Jersey Sport have launched a new ‘School to Sport’ pilot scheme to help combat inactivity amongst the island’s school children and introduce more children to sport, as part of the Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy.

81% of children and young people in Jersey do not meet the World Health Organisation’s recommended guidelines for physical activity. Children should be participating in 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per day. The new ‘School to Sport’ pilot scheme, in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Association of Jersey and Plat Douet School, has been created to introduce primary school children to sports clubs within their local vicinity to encourage them to play more sport and to join a local sports club.

The initiative has started, working with 24 children from Year 4 at Plat Douet School who are walked in small groups on different days, by Jersey Sport coaches to play table tennis at the Geoff Reed Table Tennis Centre at the FB Fields, as soon as they finish their school day. Through research, including Jersey Sport undertaking physical literacy testing in the school, pupils were identified to take part in the pilot scheme who are currently not part of any sports club and who would benefit from doing more physical activity.

Phil Walker, Headteacher at Plat Douet School said, “We’re thrilled some of our students are taking part in this pilot scheme to help increase their fitness and wellbeing. The physical literacy work undertaken by Jersey Sport at the school has been invaluable to help identify where physical activity needs to be increased amongst our young people. ‘School to Sport’ is introducing our students to the experience of playing sport, which unfortunately is something they’ve not all had the chance to do. We’re totally committed to the scheme and would love to see it rolled out to help benefit more local children.

Over the next academic year, the scheme will help to break down some of the barriers to playing sport some of the island’s primary school children sadly face. ‘School to Sport’ will enable the children to try a range of sports in the local vicinity, all within walking distance of their school. After the initial six weeks, the pilot scheme will take the group of children to play squash after school, with further sports introduced over the next 12 months.

Paul du Feu, President of the Commonwealth Games Association of Jersey said, “The Commonwealth Games Association are delighted to be jointly sponsoring this fabulous new initiative with Jersey Sport*, to enable more children to enjoy sport, which will also hopefully set some on a developmental pathway into competitive sport. We hope to see local children joining a variety of sports clubs and enjoying all that island sport has to offer.

Each of the children taking part in the scheme have been provided with a ‘School to Sport’ branded t-shirt and are given a healthy snack when they finish school, to keep their energy levels up before playing sport. Government guidelines are being strictly followed in relation to the prevention of COVID-19 whilst playing sport. At the end of the year, those children interested in joining a particular sport they have enjoyed will be given a year’s free membership to that sports club, along with the relevant sports equipment and kit required to play.

Paul Routier, President of the Jersey Table Tennis Association said, “It’s been fantastic to see the enjoyment and energy of the children coming here to play table tennis. Sadly, a lot of the children were unaware the centre was even here, but now we’ve seen a few come back and play table tennis with us on a Saturday. We’re proud to be involved in the ‘School to Sport’ pilot scheme and hope additional funding can be secured to enable it to be rolled out to more schools in the future. To see new, younger members joining the sport would be amazing, so we can help coach them to become the table tennis stars of the future!

Besides raising awareness of the different sports available to play in the island, the pilot scheme, funded through the national Games Changers Grant secured by Jersey Sport and the Commonwealth Games Association of Jersey, helps to break down the barriers to playing sport some of our local children face.

Elliot Powell, Interim Children and Schools Manager at Jersey Sport explained, “The ‘School to Sport’ initiative has been developed as part of the Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy, with the aim of getting more local children into playing sport. It has been designed to help break down some of the barriers to playing sport, which unfortunately some children may experience in their lives.

The children are introduced to local sports clubs in their area – so we can walk them there and their parents can then collect them on foot, if they don’t drive, for example. They go to the sports club with their friends, have fun and meet the sports coaches – they get to experience the feel good factor and positivity associated with playing sport and become familiar with playing sport in their own time. The funding secured for this pilot scheme means it’s all free and the children interested will also be given a club membership, sports kit and sports equipment to continue playing their chosen sport, which they may not otherwise be able to afford.

The feedback received so far from the children participating, their teachers and the table tennis association has all been very positive, so we really hope we can secure additional funding to extend the scheme to help introduce more school children to the world of sport over the next few years. We can see it helping to make a big difference to their lives.

To find out more about the Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy, please visit: www.jerseysport.je/IAJStrategy

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* The ‘School to Sport’ pilot scheme has been made possible by Jersey Sport and the Commonwealth Games Association of Jersey applying for, and successfully securing, a Game Changers Grant from the Commonwealth Sport Foundation, the national body associated with the Commonwealth Games Federation.

The Commonwealth Games Federation is the organisation that is responsible for the direction and control of the Commonwealth Games, and for delivering on the vision of the Commonwealth Sports Movement: to build peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities globally by inspiring Commonwealth Athletes to drive the impact and ambition of all Commonwealth Citizens through Sport.