City leads way in giving girls a sporting chance to keep fit
A NEW drive to get teenage girls involved in physical activity was launched today, based on pilot schemes in Edinburgh which saw hairdryers and straighteners installed in changing rooms and pupils designing their own PE kit.
Sports minister Stewart Maxwell visited the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho to announce funding of 530,000 for the "Fit for Girls" programme aimed at encouraging schoolgirls aged 11-16 to adopt more active lifestyles.
Girls are less likely to play sports than boys and physical activity among girls declines sharply as they get older. At 11, just 41.2 per cent of girls meet the official target of one hour's physical activity most days per week, compared with 55.5 per cent of boys. At 13, that drops dramatically to 28.7 per cent of girls, compared with 46.8 per cent of boys. And by 15, the figures are 23.5 per cent for girls and 38.6 per cent for boys.
Under the scheme unveiled today, staff in every high school in Scotland will be trained so that specially-tailored activities can be developed for girls, both in school and outside the curriculum.
Edinburgh's Castlebrae Community High School in Craigmillar, one of 27 schools which took part in a pilot scheme, recorded a dramatic increase in girls choosing to do PE, from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. Among the initiatives was sprucing up the changing rooms and installing a new "vanity area" with mirrors, shelving, hairdryers and straighteners.
Girls regularly "forgot" their PE kit and did not like what they had to wear, so staff and girls got together to choose a new kit. It is kept at school so no one can forget to bring it. Many pupils used not to show up at school on Fridays, so a breakfast club was established offering dance and running for girls followed by a healthy breakfast. Now between 12 and 18 girls turn up to run each week.
Alan Reid, Castlebrae's active schools co-ordinator, said: "The problem for girls is they are at an age when they are body-conscious and there is a dislike of PE. They probably don't think it's cool to take part and they prefer to look good than go to their next class with their hair dishevelled.
"When we started there was only one girl out of the 18 pupils doing PE for Standard Grade, now it's 50-50 boys and girls. They will reap the benefit later in life from the keep fit, healthy exercise message."
Currie Community High School also ran a pilot scheme, which saw a cheerleading club set up, non-competitive activities like body combat and body attack made part of the curriculum, and an after-school dance club established, led by senior girls.
Jessica Lindohf, Sportscotland's women, girls and sport officer, said the pilot schemes had seen some "stunning improvements" in girls' involvement.
Olympic and Commonwealth medallist Liz McColgan praised the new drive. She said: "If girls are to get and stay involved in sport throughout their lives it is essential that they have a positive experience at school."
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Monday 20 May 2013
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