Girls with tennis rackets on a tennis court

The charity helping girls to exercise in London

In a concerning trend, recent findings from Sport England’s Active Lives survey reveal that more than half of girls nationwide are falling short of the recommended minimum of 60 minutes of daily exercise.

Shockingly, 56% of girls are not meeting this target, painting a worrying picture of physical activity among young females in the UK.

Nowhere is this issue more pronounced than in London, where girls are nearly 10% less active than boys, with a staggering 58% failing to meet the activity guidelines. 

Lucy Clarke, appointed as Female Development Lead for sport for development charity Greenhouse Sports in March, emphasised the importance of fostering participation among girls. 

Drawing from her extensive experience as a Greenhouse coach, Clarke acknowledged the transformative power of sports and stressed the need for girls to feel empowered to participate fully.

She said: “While we’ve made strides in increasing girls’ participation from 39% to 44% in just one year, there’s still work to be done.

“I’m excited to lead efforts toward achieving gender parity in sports and ensuring that every girl has the opportunity to experience the life-changing benefits of physical activity.”

Compounding this disparity, children from lower income families are even less active, with a disparity of more than 10% compared to those from higher income households.

Responding to this pressing challenge, Greenhouse Sports has intensified its efforts to combat declining activity levels, particularly among girls in disadvantaged areas.

Last month, Greenhouse Sports redoubled its commitment to promoting physical activity through in-school sports initiatives, primarily targeting the most deprived communities, including those in London.

Bolstering their initiatives, the charity launched a month-long campaign titled ‘On Her Team: MARCHing toward gender parity’, leveraging the momentum of International Women’s Day. 

During this period, Greenhouse Sports delivered a record-breaking 20,000 hours of coaching and mentoring to girls across breakfast and after-school clubs, a significant increase from their previous efforts.

At the heart of Greenhouse Sports’ approach is the deployment of elite sports coaches to run free-access sessions within schools on a full-time basis. 

These coaches not only facilitate sporting activities but also provide mentorship and support for the personal development of participating children.

The push for increased participation from women is further underscored by partnerships with organizations like Sweaty Betty, aimed at addressing the gender gap in sports engagement. 

Initiatives such as the Girls Only Sports Bra roadshow and Girls Only Holiday Camps have been pivotal in encouraging girls to embrace physical activity.

In collaboration with Sweaty Betty, Greenhouse Sports conducted focus groups in 10 schools to gain insights into the preferences and motivations of female participants.

Encouragingly, data from 2023 revealed an 18.6% increase in girls engaging in physical activity for 60+ minutes during these sessions compared to the previous year, bucking the national trend of declining female activity levels.

In the face of declining activity levels among girls, initiatives spearheaded by organizations like Greenhouse Sports offer a beacon of hope, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to fostering a culture of health, empowerment, and inclusivity among young females.

To find out more about Greenhouse Sports, click here.

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