By Alan Hendry, Jump2it Education and Development Coordinator
We at Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) believe that all young people should have access to quality sporting provision, and that they should be guided, mentored and supported to realise and reach their full potential. We appreciate that sport can transcend social and cultural boundaries, and has the ability to be used as a tool to educate, upskill and change the lives of young people and their communities. It is for this very reason that we aim to understand the needs of the young people and place them at the heart of all of our programmes.
Utilising the power of sport and physical activity as a tool to bring about positive societal change has long been recognised as a valuable strategy within community development. It is widely acknowledged that participation in sport and physical activity can bring about changes in physical, psychological and social well-being. However, the ‘Sport For Change’ agenda aims to distinguish which approaches are most effective to bring about these changes with a particular focus placed on partnership networking and collaboration.
The ‘Sport For Change’ agenda is defined as using sport and physical activity as a means of intentionally bringing about positive benefits for both communities and their individuals to meet specific needs within localities. Within this concept sport is used as the hook to engage with individuals, groups or communities and bring about societal change. Although this is a relatively new approach within its wider context and application, we at Scottish Sports Futures have been utilising this model for the last 18 years within our ‘Sport For Change’ programmes.
SSF work with a network of with both local and national partner organisations, professional sporting clubs and role models, and national governing bodies with the aim of encouraging participation in physical activity, as well as promoting physical and mental well-being, community integration and self-efficacy within young people. This approach has allowed us to form a network of partner organisations with combined knowledge around sport and community development and an appreciation of community needs and local young people, which has brought us into this space known as ‘Sport For Change’.
Within the ‘Sport For Change’ agenda there is a pressing need for organisations to adopt a joined up working approach. In today’s economic climate, partnership working is more important than ever before. Collaboration has become a major focus within the third sector in recent years, and with funding pots dwindling there is even more demand on organisations to achieve more with less resources. However, out of this financial necessity comes the possibility of driving forward real innovative change and different approaches to the ‘Sport For Change’ model. The key is to delivering innovative, young person-centred programmes with limited budgets, is to adopt collaborative approaches to delivery.
Partnership working allows organisations to share learning, local knowledge, networks and resources. Adopting a collaborative approach offers different organisations, groups and networks the opportunity to combine forces to tackle development challenges whilst at the same time simultaneously reaping organisational benefits and achieving mutually desired outcomes.
The purpose of creating networking opportunities is to enable organisations to share best practice and learning, receive training and support collectively to promote joint working approaches. Vital to collaborative working is to identify the desired outcomes of sport and physical activity programmes by each organisation and to work together to ensure that the work complements the work of the other and that work is not duplicated.
All SSF initiatives have been designed with the young people at the heart of decision making, and are specifically designed to encourage participation in physical activity as well as promoting physical and mental well-being, community integration and self-efficacy.
Utilising our sport for change model, SSF have excelled in creating effective partnerships and local networks bringing together local knowledge, youth work and sporting approaches for the most effective sustainable impacts for young people across Scotland.
Through collaborative work with a variety of community groups, Jump2it have been successful in achieving local community development as well as promoting various community benefits such as volunteerism, active citizenship, community well-being and the creation of local social networks for young people within a sport for change environment.
One effective example of this partnership approach within the Sport for Change model can be demonstrated through the Jump2it’s collaborative work with Police Scotland. Over the last year Jump2it have worked very closely with Police Scotland’s community engagement teams in an attempt to break down barriers and perceptions between police and youngsters within the Glasgow area, while also driving forward community focused outcomes of integration and community well-being. This has proven to be a very effective means of bridging gaps in relations between Police Scotland and the young people of Glasgow, all the while effectively promoting wider inclusion within a ‘Sport For Change’ environment.