School sport: Sport head urges unity to help keep kids active
Jacqueline Lynn joined the organisation in early 2009 and has become a familiar face in Scottish sport, having previously been a sport and physical activity manager with Active Stirling and the manager of the team which won Britain's first-ever Boccia gold medal at the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008.
In her current position she wants all Scottish youngsters to have a greater choice when it comes to sport, giving them a taste for a range of activities so that they find something they enjoy.
Lynn also knows how important it is for the schools and the local sports clubs to work together so that youngsters have somewhere nearby where they can continue playing their chosen sport into their teens and beyond. Seven years ago - following the Physical Activity Task Force review - the Active Schools network was established to engage with schools and the wider community.
It has grown over the years and all 32 local authorities in Scotland have adopted the network, which currently consists of 420 managers and co-ordinators. Lynn said: "It is vital that the there is somebody to give leadership and direction to sport in local areas and really engage with teachers, pupils and parents and the Active Schools co-ordinators do just this.
"Each area in Scotland is different and each school has different needs so the co-ordinators always take time and care to speak to the key people in charge and put together a plan of action to best suit those needs.
"Sometimes that can be the headmaster, sometimes it is a PE teacher and sometimes it is another teacher. Once that link has been established taster sessions can begin in various sports and regular activities to suit the particular needs of that school can be arranged.
"It is then vital that the Active Schools co-ordinator and the school work closely with other teachers and parents at the school to educate them in sports coaching and point the parents in the right direction should they want to take coaching badges and such like.
"Involving these teachers and parents at the first stage is key because it means that more children will have options available to them and the standard of coaching that is being given will improve and help us produce more talented sportspeople."
Lynn has been delighted to see in recent years that pupils have been more willing to come forward and put suggestions to their teachers about what sports they would like to try. She said: "For example, Fit For Girls, which aims to involve girls in activities and help stop the problems that arise from lack of exercise, has been a great success. As a sport lover I think it is brilliant that the children nowadays are able to try out all sorts from football to dance and when you see new clubs and activities flourish in schools, having been started from scratch, it is really rewarding."
"I try and get out to as many school-run events as I can in various areas and the enthusiasm shown by pupils always does impress me and make me think the future is bright."
Sportscotland has recently committed funding to the Active Schools network until 2015 and although there are a lot of positive steps being taken Lynn is also aware that there will be some tough challenges ahead.
Most councils are cutting back their budgets and this will undoubtedly have an impact on sport, while a percentage of Scottish school children are not keen on engaging in regular exercise."Yes, there are challenges, but with the Olympics in London next year and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 there is no better time to get Scottish youngsters enthused about sport and we will continue to work hard to make this happen," Lynn added.
"To have a big event such as the Commonwealth Games on your doorstep in just three years is a real thrill and gives everyone a focal point. It is the Scottish nature to be quite negative about things, but I am a positive person and am looking forward to the coming years."