A new initiative to inspire people from deprived areas to get involved in sport will be launched later this month.
Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) is leading on the initiative, known as the Energize project, working alongside Oldham Athletic Community Trust, Community 1st Oldham and The Oldham College, to deliver a comprehensive programme offering a host of sporting activities, as well as volunteering opportunities and training. Community 1st Oldham and Sport England’s SportMatch are providing funding for the project.
The project has an ambitious target of 10,000 new attendances at new sport sessions between January and July 2012.
Alan Keane, Health and Outdoor Development Officer, OCL, said: “This is a great example of Oldham organisations working together to make taking part in sport and physical activity easy, enjoyable, and affordable. Increasing participation in sport is just one element – we are aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of the people taking part, as well as offering them volunteering and training opportunities, which could lead to paid employment. Whilst our main target group is young people from 16 to25 who are often less likely to participate in sport, we are also offering activities for families and older people.”
The programme will offer a number of popular sports including football, boxing, cricket, basketball, swimming and rugby for a nominal charge of around 50 pence per session. Three month gym memberships will be available for just £10. There will also be a number of outdoor activities including walking, climbing, running and cycling, which links to Oldham Council’s objectives to make Oldham’s countryside and outdoor offering more accessible.
As part of Energize’s health-improvement remit, it will fund places on a new GP exercise referral programme for people with chronic medical conditions who are on a low income.
Neil Charlesworth, General Manager of Community 1st Oldham, said: “Community 1st Oldham is proud to support the Energize project and our local partners to deliver activities which will bring young people and communities together to have fun and get fit and healthy. We believe the GP exercise referral programme will make a great local health improvement impact.”
Young people themselves were instrumental in the project planning with a survey of more than 600 young people attending The Oldham College helping the team decide on what activities to offer, and where, as well as how to promote them. Jenny Bates, Student Participation Co-ordinator, The Oldham College, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for students to be able to access new activities without cost being a barrier. The Energize project supports the College’s ethos to enrich and enhance the student experience through different opportunities for young people and will link to our already well-established enrichment programme.”
The project is using social media and digital technology to engage young people, with a designated Facebook page as well as an interactive website where participants can monitor their progress, access individualised nutritional plans, and have health and fitness questions answered by a ‘virtual coach’.
The activities will be delivered in existing facilities as well as new venues in the community such as community centres, schools, parks and the countryside.