There is an increasing focus on how community sport and physical activity providers can improve the way they engage with people who are not currently active.
Active Lives research covering England reported that 40% of the adult population of England, are active for less than the recommended 150 minutes a week. And 47% aren’t engaging with sport and fitness at least once every two weeks. Physical inactivity contributes to nearly 2,500 deaths in Scotland and costs the NHS around £91 million per year.
But unfortunately, for quite some time many, if not most, coach education programmes have ignored the difficult, but crucial point, of attracting, welcoming and retaining all those people who have had negative experiences with sport and physical activity in earlier life.
Training people to activate inactive people has for been for a while been almost ignored, whereas there are an awful lot of support for people who want to become better sports coaches.
Technical skills are still important if you want to keep enjoying your rugby, parkour or cricket. So, we should keep running education programmes for coaches within those sports and others, but do not expect the number of people playing that sport or generally being active to grow, just because the ‘converted’ improve, say, their golf swing, back stroke or swing bowling.
Yes, there is evidence that good, quality coaching improves the likelihood that people will stay active for longer. However, too many coaches/instructors are guilty of focusing on the talented participants and ignoring the shy, less sporty, participants in the back. And then they can’t understand why those people don’t come back.
Inactive people want to enjoy themselves, have fun, improve their skills and be part of a welcoming social and sporting experience. Yes, if possible, they want to develop their skills, but they want to do so in an engaging way; they don’t want to be put under undue pressure from an over-ambitious and zealous coach.
So, we need to distinguish between ‘sports coaches/fitness instructors’ and the ‘activators/hosts’ who get inactive people into regular activity: We call them Activity Growers.
The six modules to become an Activity Grower:
Each module includes
• A 3-hour workshop
• A Guide/workbook
• 45 minute follow up webinar
• Membership of the The Activity Grower Network
Who is it for?
The Academy is aimed at local authorities, governing bodies of sport, County Sports Partnerships, Community Sports Hubs, universities and colleges, community groups, public health bodies, leisure trusts and other providers of physical activity.
Introduction to growing physical activity
This modules provides participants with an introduction to the thoughts, tools and to-dos on how to get inactive people more active:
- How to engage with local communities and link up with inactive people based on their age, health condition, ethnicity, demographics, and/or location
- Welcoming people in all shapes and sizes
- Providing experiences which all types of participants can enjoy
- How to tell your story through photos, videos and hashtags. From flyers to Instagram – efficient and effective communication
- Developing the enterprise culture and skills which can help ensure long-term sustainability
Engaging with local communities and people
This module covers how best engage with and involve your local community and become than ‘just that fitness place’ and become a hub for your community:
- How to understand, and work with, the community around you from ethnic groups/clubs, faith groups and centres, neighbourhood associations, housing associations, groups from wards/parts of your city, youth clubs and groups (formal and informal), etc.
- How to involve connectors withion your community. Connectors are people who know lots of people; they are not always leaders
- How to become networked with your community
- How to develop shared values with your community. This can can be defined as a new kind of partnership, in which both the club and the community contribute directly to the strengthening and development of each other
- How to draw up a list of your current and potential community partners, their needs, your skills and contacts
Welcoming people of all shapes and sizes
Being welcoming is about developing and maintaining a culture where everybody communicates and forms some type of relationship within your environment; be they long-standing participants, newcomers or guests. We must developing a ‘welcoming’ philosophy and see your activities through the eyes of the newcomer.
This module will therefore focus on
- How to develop a welcoming culture
- How to get pre-arrival right: – telephone and email enquiries, website content asnd class bookings
- How to help newcomers ease into the place and the sessions, so the initial ‘like-first-day-at-school’ nerves disappear and they become advocates
- How to make sure that when you attract new people, you really have to be conscious of who they are and what you are offering and if that fits in with their needs
- How to make your place and sessions welcoming and visible
How to create great experiences for all
The focus is to ensure that people with different needs all feel they are being looked after and where members, parents, supporters, staff and volunteers are all focusing on creating great sporting and consumer experiences. We are all different, so what you think is a great experience, may not be the same to a 56-year-old ‘never active’ or a 42-year-old ‘returner’.
This module includes:
- How to ‘listen to people’s lives’ and create really great experiences
- How to use ‘buddies’ to ease the pathway from inactive to regular
- How to see your classes and propositions through the eye of the participants
- How to develop a ‘customer-first’ culture
- How to get real and honest feedback from participants
How to tell your story through photos, videos and hashtags
Successful providers of physical activity programmes all use social media extensively. They know that to build engagement and loyality they have build a community, both on – and off-line.They know that creativity, honesty and imagery are key ingredients in that process and they are always willing to innovate and learn. This module follows their lead:
- How to grow your networks on social media
- How to encourage participants to share their experinces at your classes with their social networks
- How to become a great storyteller
- A picture paints a 1000 words: Videos, photos, colours
- How your social networks can become part of the customer experience and help build brand loyalty
How to ensure long term financial sustainability of your project
Some physical activity programmes are project-funded whereas others are funded by user-payments. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases where providers have ignored the long-term financial sustainability of their work and have had to stop the otherwise great work they are doing. Other providers are able to fulfil their mission of getting inactive people active while running a viable enterprise. So how do they do that?
This module will cover how best to secure the long-term financial sustainability of your great work:
- How to demonstrate the impact and value of your work to funders (and others)
- How to create the right balanced income-model for your project
- How to develop innovative add-ons which can generate income
- How to build services and experiences that are so great that participants will really want to pay for them
- How to become sustainable community sports enterprise
The Activity Grower Academy sits alongside these sister events:
A healthier Scotland through sport and physical activity
A one-day conference on how we can develop community sport and physical activity for everybody, all through life, and make a contribution to a healthier society
12th September 2017, University of Stirling