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Empowering women and girls through Active Play - Inspiring Scotland


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Empowering women and girls through Active Play

To mark this year’s Scottish Women and Girls Sports week we want to highlight the positive impact of women and girls’ participation in sports and physical activity through the Active Play Programme. Using a partnership approach it is enabling children, and adults, to participate in, and in turn lead on Active Play across Glasgow and the rural Highlands.  

It is clear that taking part in outdoor play, regular sports, or physical activity is good for individuals and communities.

However, despite this, nearly 60% of girls don’t meet the recommended exercise guidelines. Research from Women in Sport shows that at the age of nine, many girls have already been put off sport and over 40% of girls have dropped out of all sports activity by the time they reach their teenage years. We must change this.   

 We believe that Active Play can be part of the solution to this national problem.  

 Active Play combines grassroots delivery of inclusive active play, with training and support, so that children have access to more fun and inclusive active play and adults can understand the principles of Active Play and be confident in implementing it. The more adults who are able to continue to facilitate active play, the more active play for children.  

 Since 2016 Inspiring Scotland has have worked in partnership with Glasgow City Council to deliver Active Play to 5,000 children in 147 primary schools and this year will bring the programme to the Highlands in 3 primary schools, benefitting around 360 children.

Active Play is typically delivered over a 15-week period for 1 hour per week with 30 mins of structured active play led by a trained charity leader and 30 mins of outdoor free play activity. The sessions can take place in a school, nursery, or community setting. And the approach is underpinned by three drivers: Fun, Active and Inclusive. 

Bringing the fun back into physical activity can be a huge incentive for engaging women and girls in sport. The team of partners collaborating on the programme also understand the importance of involving the children, and those who care for them in a way that promotes confidence, leadership, and ownership – boosting motivation and physical competence.  

 The Active Play programme is backed by evidence from a PHD doctorate, internal and external evaluations. We know it is building children’s resilience, confidence, and self-esteem. Data has also shown children have improved relationships, physical ability, negotiating skills, energy levels/stamina, confidence, and happiness all being improved. 

Teaching staff are also recognising the benefits with many continuing to deliver Active Play after the programme has ended. Feedback has also suggested that physical activity/literacy levels have been further enhanced by 74% children taking up/planning to take up new sports clubs or activities after school. In addition to 80% participating in more active play at breaks and lunchtime, or at home.  

The Value of Partnerships  

The Active Play programme would not be possible without the expertise, knowledge, and resource from a range of partners.

 Actify lead on the CPD training of all adults involved in the programme and provide a centralised place for learning and sharing of best practice. Check out the Active Play hub here: 

Having professional play experts leading Active Play on a weekly basis is crucial to the success of the programme. These positive and trusted role models bring their expertise, cooperative working practices and shared learning and is enhanced by the  ongoing CPD delivered by Actify.  Additionally, the play charities provide a bridge between communities/families and schools; providing wraparound support to the most vulnerable children across Glasgow.  

Inspiring Scotland’s role has been central to the ongoing strategic development of Active Play. From inception to now, working closely with Glasgow City Council Education Department, PEPASS, teachers, schools, and other stakeholders across the country and the grassroots charities to ensure a joined up and complementary approach.  

 If we value the health and well-being of girls, and all children and want to create a future of young people and adults who enjoy being physically active then we must continue to work together to remove barriers. We can provide more and better active play, physical activity and sporting opportunities which are fun, active, and inclusive and become a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.  

For more information on the Active Play programme please feel free to drop me a line  Melodie Crumlin, Thrive Outdoors Fund Manager  or follow on Twitter @Melodie_Crumlin 

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