Author Active Herefordshire and Worcestershire
Secondary schools from all over Worcestershire take part in Worcs Girls Can, a non-traditional physical activity festival.
In May, 11-16 year old female pupils from secondary schools across Worcestershire attended our Worcs Girls Can festival, an alternative physical activity and mental wellbeing event, held away from the typical sport or school environment. The event offered over 100 students the chance to get involved in a range of divergent activities from Glow Beatz to functional fitness and Yoga, as well as 'Girl Talk' sessions, providing a space for the young girls to talk openly around taboo subjects surrounding such the impact of the menstrual cycle, gender stereotypes and more.
The event forms part of the localised version of the national This Girl Can campaign, set out to encourage women and girls to get active in a way they enjoy, regardless of their shape, ability or what they look like. The festival aimed to positively impact health and wellbeing, improving confidence and self-esteem, encourage increased and long-term participation in sport and physical activity and comes at a time when, post-pandemic, getting active is more important than ever for children and young people's mental and physical wellbeing.
Stephen Brewster, Chief Executive Officer at Active Herefordshire and Worcestershire said, "Physical activity participation among women and girls remains a priority for Active Herefordshire and Worcestershire."
"The Worcs Girls Can festival was an opportunity to create an environment of physical activity where girls are able to feel supported and more comfortable in participating. Through the delivery on non-traditional activity, we hope to create positive experiences for children and young people in Worcestershire."
One teacher from a school that attended refed to the day as "just incredible", "exceptionally empowering" and "such a memorable occasion in their (the participants') lives". Another added, "Through Worcs Girls Can, the girls learned that there are so many ways to be active. Every single girl from my school found a new activity they enjoy".
The campaign was set out to target those young girls least engaged in school PE lessons, and in any out-of-school physical activity, with the aim to provide them with an experience to learn what activities they enjoy, and in-turn reap the so many benefits of getting active, such as improved physical and mental wellbeing and increased confidence.
Sarah Milward, Project Officer for Children and Young People at Active Herefordshire & Worcestershire said "we have definitely achieved what we set out to and managed to create the relaxed environment where girls were able to feel empowered, supported, confident doing physical activity, whilst learning about their interests and understanding others."
For so many girls Worcs Girls Can not only provided them with an opportunity to try new activities in non-traditional, casual and comfortable environments but to talk openly about the barriers which prevent them from being active, such as the menstrual cycle, friendship influences and support each other during the Girl Talks.
"It was great to hear girls talking to their teachers about how they can use their experiences from the festival to help shape PE back in school, and even better hearing back from the teachers on how they, following the event, are reshaping their PE lessons to engage those who are currently less engaged in PE"
Herefordshire Girls Can
The Worcester event followed on from a similar event held for schools across Herefordshire. For the first time in 2022, Here Girls Can was united with the Herefordshire county-wide School Games programme. Combining both programmes has enabled us to utilise the complementary messaging and resources associated with each programme, alongside working in closer collaboration with local partners. For the first time, Here Girls Can has also extended to include primary schools.
This format provided to be really successful and informal interviews with teachers, some of the feedback is shown below.
Never seen half the girls take their jumpers off before today! Think that's due to self confidence and a lot of the girls are self conscious, worried maybe about what they look like or sweat patches etc. The environment here made them feel ok to take their jumpers off without worry. Enjoyed the fitness which surprised some of them - they were better than they thought! Aylestone School
One pupil hardly speaks to the staff member she came with, but is more relaxed now and talking. Ivington Primary School
"It genuinely was one of the best events I've attended from a school perspective and was organised so well from a gym perspective. I think it had a real impact on all of my girls and I'm sure by looking on their faces, so many of the other school girls too. Just felt compelled to say thank you and that you and everyone involved should be really proud of today, it was a pleasure to be involved in an event that made such a positive impact for the girls. It felt like everyone that attended left with so much positivity about the day, I know my school and Michelle [Bull Functional Fitness] certainly did!" Holmer Primary School
Thank you for today , the girls loved it. Was great to see them have the confidence to have a go, a few are capable and enjoy doing PE but are intimidated by the more confident girls so sit back and won’t put themselves forward, hopefully this showed them they are as good." Stretton Sugwas
To read the full impacat report click here
For more information about the This Girl Can campaign, please visit: https://www.activehw.co.uk/2022-school-campaign