On Wednesday 23rd March 2022, the Herts Sports Partnership (the Active Partnership for Hertfordshire), Hertfordshire School Games Organisers, and the Youth Sport Trust collaborated to create the first ever This Girl Can in Herts Schools Festival.
Women in Sport found that 43% of teenage girls who once considered themselves ‘sporty’, disengage from sport after primary school. Acknowledging that fears included being judged by others, a lack of confidence, pressures of schoolwork and not feeling safe outside, the Partnership wanted to offer a fun, friendly and female-only event that used sport and physical activity as a tool to address these issues.
Year 7 pupils from eight different schools in Hertfordshire were invited to Wodson Park Sports and Leisure Centre in Ware for a full day of physical activity and fun. The schools in attendance also brought two older pupils to act as peer mentors, and benefit from the opportunity to increase their leadership skills and assist the younger girls when they return to their school setting.
Double Olympian Montell Douglas, who is also a Youth Sport Trust Athlete Mentor, joined the day and kickstarted it by discussing her impressive athletic career with the aim to inspire the girls, before leading one of three workshops which focused on team building, leadership, and physical activity. Young female leaders in Year 10 from The John Warner School also lent their support on the day.
In reflecting on the success of the event, Douglas who is the first British Female Summer (athletics) and Winter Olympian (bobsleigh), said:
“We have had a fantastic day at the This Girl Can in Herts Schools Festival where I’ve loved seeing the growth from the girls throughout the day, and also seeing their confidence blossom alongside the friendships they’ve made during the activities. I hope this is a day that they won’t forget soon and possibly be the start of their own active journeys.”
In echoing Douglas’ thoughts, the Pastoral Manager from Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood commented:
“The day has been inspiring. Some of our girls came and weren’t looking forward to it and they’ve surprised us by joining in. The ones that started off on the right leg are now encouraging the quieter ones.”
Sarah Thorpe, Youth Sport Trust Senior Tutor and International Independent Educational Consultant observed:
“It was an absolute privilege to work alongside all of these empowering people. The This Girl Can in Herts programme is certainly in great hands.”
The This Girl Can in Herts Schools Festival will kickstart additional female provision back at the schools in the form of ‘This Girl Can Clubs’. These will be supported by funding from the Herts Sports Partnership and the School Games Commonwealth Legacy Fund.
For more information about This Girl Can in Herts please email Alex Varran on email@example.com