On Friday 23rd June, County Durham Sport hosted two School Games events at Durham University’s Health and Wellbeing Park at Maiden Castle. These were the ‘Get Girls Active’ festival and the ‘Opportunities for All’ festival. Working alongside a number of County Durham School Games Organisers (SGOs) to run the events, each festival saw six schools take part, with 159 pupils engaging in the various activities throughout the day.
Get Girls Active Festival
Get Girls Active was designed to engage girls who may not enjoy or thrive in PE, giving them the opportunity to try different forms of physical activity in a less competitive environment, promoting fun and enjoyment. The festival comprised of three activities that all girls took part in during the day.
Natalie Jackson, Founder and Director at Totally Runable, led a series of running activities; Ebony Thomson from Go Well delivered a Fun Through Football session, and Lazer Wars North East led a laser run activity based on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!
County Durham Sport staff worked to collect feedback from girls taking part, and below are some selected quotes pupils gave during the event:
“I was a bit nervous about leaving school and the teachers that I know to come here, but everyone has been really nice, and now we’ve started the activities I’m having fun”.
“It’s good being able to try new things. I wouldn’t have been able to use those lasers if I hadn’t come here, and that was actually quite cool”.
While observing Natalie’s session specifically, it was interesting to see how the body language of the girls changed. At the start, they seemed quite self-conscious of their movements, but after a few minutes, they seemed to be enjoying the activities much more freely and confidently. This was reflected in their feedback:
“Doing the running games in that way felt like a lot less pressure [than at school]. Usually I don’t like running at school, like when we’re running laps and stuff, but that was alright”.
“I didn’t realise how much running we actually did! I think it was because I wasn’t thinking about it, and I was just trying to do the games”.
It was clear that the girls really enjoyed the variety of activities on offer at the festival and that it provided them with an opportunity to engage in sport and physical activity in new ways that might not be available at school in curricular PE.
Opportunities for All Festival
Opportunities for All was a mixed-gender event that saw each school participate in four out of six activities on offer. Activities included archery, boxing, dodgeball, fencing, yoga and walking (nature walk along the River Wear). This event was also aimed at pupils who struggle to engage with PE lessons in school, providing them with an opportunity to try out new sports in an attempt to strengthen their relationship with physical activity.
Some of the feedback from pupils during the event included:
“There are sports here for all different types of people – like yoga is more relaxed, and boxing is more fast paced. There really is something for everyone”.
“I really enjoyed the nature walk because I thought it was peaceful and pretty. It showed me that exercise doesn’t have to be difficult all the time”.
Some of the teachers that attended with pupils also offered their insight into this event:
“I chose to bring along the kids that often lack confidence or can be a bit self-conscious during PE lessons because this kind of event takes the pressure off, removes that competitive element and just allows them to have some fun”.
“It is really nice to have an event like this for children of this age because it shows that it doesn’t always have to be the best, more sporty kids that get all the opportunities”.
Overall, it was clear from conversations with both pupils and their teachers that these events were highly successful, with a strong appetite for more events like these in the future. Using feedback from the two festivals, County Durham Sport will work with the six County Durham SGOs to ensure more events like this take place during the 2023/24 academic year.
Article by Georgina Solly
Georgina recently completed a work placement with County Durham Sport in her final year of study at Durham University within the Department for Sport and Exercise Sciences.