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Have Your Say: Promoting Lifelong Activity at Secondary School
Last week the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) published their latest report. Unusually their focus was on teenage girls, still at secondary school.
The report presents a fairly damning view of PE lessons for teenage girls at many of the UKs secondary schools. It tells us that 50% of girls think school PE “mostly appeals to the sporty types and was a huge turnoff for the majority.” It also increased their likelihood of an inactive lifestyle after leaving school.
When you’re at school who wants to be a sporty type? For the average 14 year old girl the priority is to be feminine not sporty – the report tells us that the perception is that the most popular girls are the feminine ones.
It’s not that girls don’t want to be active, in fact 74% of girls said they wanted to be more active. It’s rather that the activities on offer don’t appeal.
Girls don’t want to play traditional competitive sports like hockey, netball and lacrosse in fact many don’t want to take part in competitive sports at all.
Of course this isn’t true for everyone and it is a widely held belief that traditional sports do still have a role to play but it needs to be accepted that they’re not effective in engaging all teen girls in activity.
The report tells us that “the most important educational legacy of schools should be that every girl leaves school having had a positive experience of being active, found activities she would like to carry on in adult life, and where appropriate, achieve her full potential.”
If we are to achieve this aim then we need to consider the thoughts and feelings of the girls involved.
Girls are asking for:-
- Choice in activities
- Girl only groups
- To be active with friends
- To have fun being active
- To feel comfortable in uniforms etc
- To feel encouraged in the activity, and
- To be rewarded for their effort
Who doesn’t want that?
Let’s overhaul school PE for teenage girls.
Let’s offer rock climbing, surfing, Zumba, circuit training, skateboarding, and Boxercise. If it’s going to lead to an engaged, enthusiastic and active next generation of women that can only be a good thing.
Maggie Ayre is the UKs leading Fitness Coach for Teen Girls. As well as one-to-one and small group nutrition and fitness work with teens she has developed the 3G Program designed to be run at schools as part of the PE curriculum. She also offers mentoring for PE departments on how to re-engage teen girls with PE and has recently published her third book; “Nutrition for Exam Success – A Parent’s Guide” which is now available on Kindle and paperback at Amazon.
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