Sport proved a great equaliser as a cross-generational group of students and school children hopped, hooped and headed their way through a festival with a difference.
The University of Bristol hosted an inclusive, fun-filled day of activities for a record number of pupils from 10 state primary schools in a bid to bridge gaps and prove you do not need a lot of ‘fancy equipment’ to encourage youngsters to be active.
More than a hundred students volunteered their time to oversee, coach and coax the children at the Coombe Dingle Sports Complex on Tuesday, March 28, and dubbed the second ever Primary Festival of School Sport a great opportunity to give something back and inspire the next generation of sportspeople.
“Some inner city schools do not have big green spaces like this, said Robbie Fox, organiser and sports development officer for the University of Bristol.
“We started a coaching programme so people could get involved with giving back to sport and that included work with young people. Different schools have different approaches and resources so we thought we could help.
“Children at this age just want to run around, so you do not need a lot of fancy equipment to get young people moving.
“All of the sessions are designed to be as inclusive as possible. They are designed to get the kids running together and playing together. It’s a great confidence builder for them.”
“The festival is huge – we have had to turn people away. We are growing our programme because we are only scratching the surface really.”
The university runs a sports leadership award and the unprecedented numbers of students signing up to it has enabled the festival to almost double the number of youngsters who can take part now, compared to when it started as an event for secondary schools in 2008.
Its fitting that the event should secure such success in the year that Bristol is named the UK’s City of Sport.
Student intern Trinity Handley, who is studying history, said she got involved in light of the regular news and reports into the poor health and low physical activity levels of children in Britain.
She added: “I’m also looking forward to watching our female volunteers acting as role models to younger girls, as Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign has demonstrated the need for celebrating women in sport.”
Fox said the festival offers an opportunity for university students to gain experience and achieve the nationally recognised sport leadership award, as well as give something back.
Volunteer Natalie Jordan, who is studying for a masters in nutrition, public health and physical activity, said: “I think it’s good to get kids out and get them excited about sports from a young age because it stays with them into adulthood. It’s really rewarding seeing the smiles on kids’ faces and seeing them enjoying themselves.”
Cindy Lin, a first year economics and management student, said: “I was helped and supported by volunteers when I was young so I wanted to give back.”
The Primary Festival of School Sport will be followed by the Secondary Festival of School Sport, which is due to take place in June and is also hosted by the University of Bristol.
Read more: Bristol to be the UK’s City of Sport 2017