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Getting Young People into SHAPE

SHAPE, previously the School Sports Partnership (SSP). You might be familiar with the work SHAPE do to get children in Chesterfield’s schools involved in sports and physical activity.

In September 2019 they became the SHAPE Learning Partnership, combining activities for both Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire SSPs. Based in office space at Brookfield, I caught up with India Hollingworth to see what’s planned for 2020.

India has been in the post almost a year, after completing her degree at Leeds Beckett

“I worked with the team over the summer 2019 and came back full time in September,” says India. “It’s a busy team as we now have responsibility for activities in 46 primary schools, two special needs schools and 11 secondary schools, I don’t know the exact numbers but there are in excess of 20,000 children in our catchment”.

India runs the competition and events calendar, she helps support and run the festivals and competitions they hold. A typical week would involve a timetable of Early Racer events at Netherthorpe supported by young leaders, Mini Basketball finals, a Hockey festival and two more Early Racer events.

“In some weeks we can see over 1000 children. There are six of us in the team of which two members work solely in primary schools helping teachers develop PE to make it a better offer. “Schools have volunteer students who get involved in a mini-leaders program, we often use the mini leaders to help support us at events. This gives the volunteers in schools the opportunity to develop leadership skills,” explains India.

SHAPE aims to work with its member schools to improve the lives of all young people through their involvement in PE, school sport, physical activity and health-based interventions. They are the only official delivery agency in the area for School Games. The School Games is a programme designed to keep competitive sport at the heart of schools and provide more young people with the opportunity to compete and achieve their personal best. Funded from central government and affiliated schools, they have been providing this level of support to schools for 15 years.

PROJECTS Chesterfield’s, Beat The Street, unfortunately came to a finish for safety reasons once lockdown came into effect. SHAPE are involved in the health and wellbeing group as part of the council and helped contribute to the project. SHAPE are one of seven approved partnerships in Derbyshire to deliver the Bikeability program to school children. Central government has agreed that it is essential bike safety and skills training is offered to every child in England and is expected to spend £2.4 billion on cycling and walking from 2016 to 2021.

“We cover all areas of health and wellbeing, active mind is a mental health awareness program, not everything we do has to be physical. We work with the bronze young ambassadors each year, like the mini-leaders, this program uses volunteer students from the County's primary schools to promote sport in schools, the same children take place in a conference at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

“It’s great to see the young leaders at this event, they discuss topics which include active travel, health, food, wellbeing, media and from this take a plan back to school to consider how they get children at their schools more involved in sports and activity.

“We are also looking at ways to introduce physical activity in such a way that people are not aware that they are doing it! It’s about getting people to take part, it’s not about winning but about inclusion, ways in which to include everyone”, says India.

India was keen to outline that “the role is such a ‘me job’, all the team feel the same, we’re all passionate about getting people involved in sport and activity. It needs innovation and interesting ways to get young people into sport, it’s a constantly changing environment, we never stand still and are always looking at how we can adapt and change what we do now to suit today and hopefully, the future.”

“Our links to local sports clubs are evolving and we want to create many opportunities for young children.”

If you want to learn a little more about the team and what they do check out the website

Words: Paul Chapman Images: Paul Chapman & India Hollingworth


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