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Active Play programme expands into North Ayrshire to improve children’s health and wellbeing - Inspiring Scotland


The latest stories from Inspiring Scotland and our partner charities.

Active Play programme expands into North Ayrshire to improve children’s health and wellbeing

A programme to increase children’s physical activity levels and improve their physical literacy through outdoor play is expanding across three communities in North Ayrshire.

With investment from the Scottish Government’s Active Scotland Division, North Ayrshire Council, and support from Inspiring Scotland and Actify, charity partner Scottish Sports Futures will bring the Active Play programme into primary school communities across Skelmorlie, Beith and Pennyburn benefitting hundreds of children.

Councillor Shaun Macaulay, Cabinet Member for Education and Young People at North Ayrshire Council said, “We are delighted to be introducing the Active Play initiative to schools.

“Outdoor play and learning is vital to a young person’s development. In addition to the benefits for children’s health and wellbeing, it enhances their cognitive skills, nurturing social interactions and instils a lifelong appreciation for nature and the outdoors.”

Paula Lacy, Head Teacher at Pennyburn Primary said, “The Active Play Programme is a fantastic addition to our focus on positive mental health and wellbeing here at Pennyburn Primary School.  It is providing our learners with regular exposure to the positive benefits of playing outside and having fun in the fresh air.  We will continue to provide these opportunities so that as they grow they develop a love and appreciation for the outdoors, being active and staying healthy.”

High levels of inactivity among Scotland’s children are having a serious effect on their health and wellbeing and can impact the rest of their lives.

The Active Play Programme, as part of the Thrive Outdoors fund delivered by Inspiring Scotland, was developed through a unique partnership in response to this issue by building early positive physical activity experiences which are fun and inclusive, enabling children and young people to establish and maintain physically active lives.

Active Play has seen incredible success since its inception in 2016 in the Glasgow area. Inspiring Scotland has worked in partnership with Glasgow City Council to deliver Active Play with over 6,000 children in 150+ primary schools and early years settings seeing 80% of children taking part in more active play throughout the school/nursery day. Teaching staff have also reported that children are more attentive, more engaged and ready to learn in class following sessions.

Celia Tennant, Chief Executive at Inspiring Scotland said, “Childrens mental health and wellbeing is of growing concern. The Active Play programme has been proven to improve children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development, which is at the forefront of North Ayrshire Council’s strategy.

“By combining grassroots delivery for children in primary schools and support and training of teaching staff, skilled charity partners like Scottish Sport Futures can implement the principles of Active Play for positive change where children are more likely to stay active into adulthood, leading healthier, happier lives and have a lot of fun along the way.”

This expansion into North Ayrshire will be delivered by charity partners Scottish Sport Futures, who use the power of sport and physical activity to engage with young people affected by poverty and trauma across Scotland, empowering them to be confident, healthy and happy.

Dougie Millen, CEO of Scottish Sport Futures said, “We are excited to be working in partnership with Inspiring Scotland’s Thrive Outdoors fund, North Ayrshire Council and Actify to develop Active Play across North Ayrshire. Active Play is a brilliant introduction to physical activity in a way that’s fun, active, and inclusive for all children.

“Scottish Sports Futures vision is a world in which every young person fulfils their potential. We use physical activity as a catalyst to enable young people to be healthier, more confident, and more resilient.

“This partnership and project is one that we jumped at as all the partners are so aligned around the values of inclusivity and diversity to deliver an approach that centres around the young people with dedication, love and care. We are delighted to be transforming young lives through physical activity with the passionate group.”

Active Play training partner Actify support the collaboration by providing training and support for the adults involved in Active Play.

Aidan Gallacher, CEO at Actify said, “We know from loads of research that providing children with a fun and positive introduction to an active way of life is critically important to their short and long term health and wellbeing. Active Play is a low or no cost activity that children can enjoy almost anywhere and at any time. As the adults in their lives, we need to take responsibility for encouraging and supporting active play. The Active Play training we provide at Actify is all about providing adults with the knowledge, skills and confidence to encourage and facilitate active play in all settings.”

Find out more about our Thrive Outdoors fund work here.

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