How we can all learn from each other and get more people active
How a housing association in Denmark inspired Valleys Gymnastics Academy in Wales and how The Great North Dog Walk and a cricket club in West Scotland inspired Llandrindod Wells FC in Wales to organise a charity Dog Walk and play football on top of the mountain…
In 2015 a housing association in Roskilde, Denmark which was facing some challenges engaging with the young people living there decided to set a Sports Equipment Library (Idrætsbiblioteket) in a former rubbish shed and here local people can borrow balls of all sizes, skateboards, stilts etc. and be active in a safe and welcoming space. The initiative has been incredibly successful and the project has been expanded and the area has been attracting outside visitors to the area which was previously regarded as a bit of a ‘no-go’ area.
In mid-March Dysgu and SMN ran a webinar as part of our Project Kickstart Cymru project and
award-winning Valleys Gymnastics Academy took part and here is what happened:
“After attending the last virtual Project Kickstart Cymru workshop – we loved the idea of a Sports Equipment Library and felt that it would complement the work we are already doing in partnership with Street Games’ Family Engagement Project (FEP). During the last year, we have already been loaning out small pieces of gymnastics and fitness equipment to VGA members and handing out family sports equipment to those families engaging with our FEP Walking Club projects. We felt that a new Sports Equipment Library would help us to develop this work further – and anecdotal evidence had already indicated a need. Using some of our FEP budget we purchased a range of family outdoor games, sensory toys and sports equipment and set up the lending library for the start of the Easter school holidays. Members can loan items for 2 weeks and then return or renew. Feedback has been excellent to date (please see parents quotes below) and we aim to expand the project to include Libraries at two of our partner schools following the school holidays.”
“This is such a wonderful idea, creating accessibility for everyone.”
“I am a strong believer in sport for all and encouraging lifelong participation and this is another fantastic example of how you guys are encouraging this!”
Local kids enjoying using equipment from the Sports Equipment Library at home
The Great North Dog Walk has taken place in South Shields in North East England for almost 30 years. It began with a few hundred dogs and their ‘owners’ taking part to now where around 35.000 walk 4 miles near the beach and raise £££ for doggy charities (remember, 28% of UK households have a dog).
I can personally say that taking part in the Great North Dog Walk is a fantastic experience!
Great North Dog Walk brings thousands of people and dogs together
Galloway Cricket Club is based on Gatehouse of Fleet, a village with a population of around 1000 inhabitants in an isolated part of West Scotland. I was working with this incredibly energetic bunch of people through the award-winning #MoreThanCricket project I ran for Cricket Scotland and they decided to have a cricket session on top of the local Cairnsmore 711 metre tall mountain.
So off they went and had a great time up there!
Galloway CC playing cricket on top of the 711-metre Cairnmore
When I was delivering the #MoreThanAClub programme for the Football Association of Wales Trust one of the clubs I was working with was Llandrindod Wells FC in mid-Wales.
I told them about the Great North Dog Walk and about Galloway CC and their endeavours and these guys we can do the same. So, some weeks later they organised a football match at the top of the local beauty spot Pen-Y-Fan which is 887 metres above ground level, so they now hold the unofficial world record for playing a team sport at the highest spot in the world.
Imagine, if you are a 12-year-old kid playing football ‘in the skies’
But, if that was not enough they then decided to replicate the Great North Dog Walk and they then got together with the mental health charity, MIND, and organised a Doggy walk, raising £££ for MIND’s Walk and Talk initiative…great stuff from a small community football club.
Tesco then became a community partner with Llandrindod Wells FC
What then happened no one had expected! All the hypermarkets of UK supermarket chains, such as ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and, indeed, Tesco employ Community Champions whose job is to engage with the communities they serve. Jayne Griffiths, the Community Champion at the local Tesco Extra heard about this enterprising, community-focused club and got in touch.
So, I would strongly suggest that you look around from Denmark to Scotland and beyond and learn from others on how to raise your profile in your community, get more people active or generate income.
Can I suggest you join the Sports Enterprise Network, our premium network where you can learn from innovative community sports enterprises from across the world and have a free 30 minutes Zoom consultation with me.