Primary school pupils from across Aberdeen had a ball last week at the culmination of a unique sports and health project for children in the Granite City.
Around 1,400 pupils from 46 city primary school converged on Aberdeen Sports Village on Friday 26 May, as the Aberdeen Youth Games culminated in a Festival of Sport.
Launched by Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Sport and Exercise Science team and Sport Aberdeen in 2013, the Aberdeen Youth Games is an innovative and multi award-winning programme which promotes physical activity, health and wellbeing amongst young people.
A Legacy 2014 programme, the initiative is supported by North East Scotland College (NEScol) and has also received funding from The Wood Foundation, First Aberdeen and the RGU Foundation, and involves sports coaching and healthy living advice for pupils.
At the festival, pupils participated in a number of skills-based sporting activities, such as rugby, basketball, football and hockey. Each activity used the skills they have learned from in-school coaching by RGU and NEScol students over the course of the term.
Dame Katherine Grainger DBE returned to the festival this year to cheer on the pupils, having been an inspirational ambassador for the Aberdeen Youth Games since its launch in 2013.
She was joined by fellow ambassadors Sir Ian Wood CBE, Aberdeen rowing star and RGU Sport Science graduate Lewis McCue and former Scotland hockey captain Leigh Fawcett, alongside invited guests such as Aileen Campbell MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health and Sport.
Dame Katherine Grainger DBE said: “It's fantastic to see so many young people taking part in such a great variety of sports and activities. For me it's not only important that they learn skills, both sporting and life skills, but they also have great fun and that's certainly what we've seen today.
“The enthusiasm, joy and spirit is absolutely infectious and I hope that's something that will continue here in Aberdeen.”
Each pupil who participated in the festival received a special commemorative medal which was designed by P5/6 Kaimhill School pupil Marta Stachowska, as part of a competition with Gray’s School of Art. The medals were mass produced at MAKE Aberdeen.
As part of the build-up to this year’s Festival of Sport, second year BSc (Hons) Applied Sport and Exercise Science students have been coaching pupils in hockey, rugby and basketball as part of their work placements with Sport Aberdeen’s Active Schools Team this semester.
Bryan McCann, lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at RGU, leads the university’s involvement in the Aberdeen Youth Games programme.
He said: “The Aberdeen Youth Games is an exciting programme that is made possible by our innovative approach to allow students to act as community assets.
“Thanks to an outstanding partnership between RGU, Sport Aberdeen and North East of Scotland College, we have been able to maximise the potential for our students to make a positive impact in the local community.
“The Aberdeen Youth Games provides our students with invaluable work-related, real life learning opportunities, which enhances their employability while making a huge difference to the lives of young people in Aberdeen.
“Having so many primary schools involved in the project this year highlights how highly regarded it’s become and this has definitely been the best Aberdeen Youth Games so far.”
Jo Bell, Director of Sports Development and Active Lifestyles at Sport Aberdeen, said: “The Aberdeen Youth Games is a fantastic opportunity for young people across the city to come together and get active. Our team of Active Schools Coordinators will be there on the day supporting the students in their delivery of the activities.
“The impressive support for this event shows that through partnership working we can achieve great things, and hopefully inspire more young people to take part in sport and physical activity.”
Funding for the 2016-17 Aberdeen Youth Games has been provided by The Wood Foundation, the RGU Foundation and First Aberdeen, with the latter also committing transportation and logistical assistance for schools to and from the festival.
In 2015, The Wood Foundation committed to provide £50,000 to the Aberdeen Youth Games over a five year period, following an initial £10,000 award to support the scheme.
Sir Ian Wood, Chairman of The Wood Foundation, said: “The scale and impact of AYG activity across Aberdeen City is very impressive. The programme provides significant benefits to participating young people across all Aberdeen primary schools, whilst also providing invaluable work experience for our university and college students who have been so actively involved in the coaching.
“AYG provides both sets of learners with the opportunity to develop new skills and the focus upon nutrition and healthy lifestyle for the young people through fun activities is invaluable. The Wood Foundation is very pleased to continue to support this initiative.”
Release by Jonathon
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