England Women’s football star, Nikita Parris, has today helped launch a new female focused youth sports programme in Parliament, which aims to increase physical activity among young women aged 16-24.
It is part of Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s and the Active Communities Network’s (ACN) B Active initiative, which is designed to get young people from some of the UK's most deprived communities engaged in sport and physical activity.
The new programme is the sixth to be launched as part of B Active, but the first to specifically focus on young women. The launch comes after it was found that the uptake of physical activity among young women was falling behind, with reviews of previous programmes showing that approximately two young men sign up for every young woman. Contributing factors include social stigmatisation, economic barriers and a lack of female role models.
The programme will therefore target young women from areas of high deprivation and provide them with greater access to sport. Initially rolling-out across Birmingham in partnership with InUnity – a youth charity – it will utilise women-only sessions and female volunteers to try to further increase engagement. On a yearly basis, it will support 300 young people, and provide educational support and volunteering opportunities to the young women.
The launch of the female focused programme was unveiled at a reception in the Houses of Parliament that was attended by Culture Secretary Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP and Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Mims Davies MP. Both were there to celebrate the success of the B Active programme and recognise young people who have completed over 50 hours of volunteering.
The entire programme has already engaged over 4,000 young people – nearly three times as many as originally projected – helping them to better access sport and activity and improve their life prospects.
Through B Active, participants have been able to develop new skills, find employment opportunities and discover alternative pathways to education. More than 700 volunteers have earned accredited qualifications, a third of whom have then gone on to secure employment through B Active.
B Active is delivered by ACN in partnership with Lucozade Ribena Suntory, one of the UK’s leading soft drinks manufacturers, as part of its commitment to positively impact UK communities though sport. The programme is also part funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
Accompanying the programme, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and ACN have partnered with Leeds Beckett University to research and evaluate the impact and success of the programme. The research will also be assessing how community-led programmes can get more women involved in physical activity.
Nikita Parris, England Women’s and Manchester City football star said: “Community led projects, like B Active, are so important as they give young adults opportunities and a path to follow. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my local community. That is why I am proud to be working with Lucozade Ribena Suntory and ACN to help launch this new programme that will actively benefit so many young women.”
Michelle Norman, Director of External Affairs and Sustainability at Lucozade Ribena Suntory comments: “We wholeheartedly believe in the physical, social and mental benefits of sport and activity and are delighted to be expanding B Active’s reach throughout the UK to help positively impact even more lives. By focusing on female participation, we hope to get more young women active while helping them to improve their life prospects.”
Ellie O’Brien, B Active Manchester member added: “B Active has helped me to grow and achieve and has given me the chance to complete my Sports Leaders Level 2 Award, which developed my employability skills and inspired me to pursue a career in sport. It has also kept me disciplined, given me a purpose and provided a focus away from negative behaviour.”