By Alan Hendry, Jump2it Schools and Education Development Coordinator
As a charity, Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) has a long-standing history of utilising the power of sport and physical activity to create innovative initiatives in which sport and youth work elements are intentionally used to bring about positive benefits for at-risk individuals and communities across Scotland. The impact of these programmes go well beyond simply improving participation in sport, towards developing areas such as community integration, physical and mental well-being and self-efficacy. At SSF we are aware that sport has a specific ability to transcend cultural and social barriers, providing a tool for engagement which is unparalleled in its ability to reach the most difficult to reach and at-risk groups.
For 19 years SSF have combined elements of sport and youth work in an attempt to create impactful programmes to support young people to reach their full potential, make positive lifestyle decisions and change their own lives for the better. During this time, SSF has built on the collaborative work with many regional and national partners with the main focus of using sport to provide opportunities to educate, and equip young people with the relevant knowledge, skills, experience and confidence to reach their own positive destinations. The collaborative work around this specific focus has brought SSF into the space which is now nationally recognised as ‘SportForChange’.
Within the Jump2it programme, we work very closely with the Radisson Red Glasgow Rocks to deliver educational content within primary schools across various local authority areas. The Glasgow Rocks players are used as professional sporting role models in an attempt to engage with children in a way in which cannot be achieved by a teacher or education professional. Using the power of sport and professional sporting athletes as the ‘hook’ to engage with children has proven to be particularly effective in delivering key educational messages. This has also proven to be effective in terms of information retention and attitudinal/behavioural change within young people which the programme is targeted towards.
Many young people have highlighted the influence of the Glasgow Rocks players on their own lifestyle changes, with many young people reporting that their behaviours are changing towards a healthier and more active lifestyle as a direct result of the input from the Glasgow Rocks players. One participant has stated:
“The Rocks taught us about knife crime, alcohol, getting sleep and health and well-being. I eat healthier now. I eat a lot of fruit, more than five a day now”.
Another participant added:
I like basketball a lot more now since the Rocks players came and spoke to us. I am a lot more active than I was before.
In addition, with the well-established network of SSF programmes and partner organisations, we are also able to offer young people various pathways into continued and sustained positive physical activity long after the conclusion of the Jump2it programme.
The power of sport simply cannot be underestimated. With the ability to change the lives of young people and entire communities in a way in which very few activities can, sport should be considered as a key tool for community engagement.