Tenterden Leisure Centre Supports Homewood School Students in This Girl Can Event
With the recent historic and inspiring triumph of 18-year old Emma Raducanu front of mind, Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre held its first ever This Girl Can campaign last week (13-17 September) for teenage female students, with the slogan: “Strong – Healthy – Unstoppable”.
National research regularly indicates that girls do not do as much physical activity as boys. The last eighteen months has certainly widened this gap as access to leisure facilities and sport were curtailed with sports clubs and gyms closed, along with schools, and dance and other extracurricular activities suspended.
As a sports teacher at Homewood, the largest secondary school in Kent, Kat Beament was determined to address the problem as soon as school restarted in September. With the support of the school’s senior leadership team, she hatched a plan before the Summer break to run a Homewood This Girl Can campaign with the aim of encouraging more female students to try out new forms of sport and thereby access the significant and proven benefits of exercising for both mental and physical health.
The resulting week-long programme has seen Homewood’s female students from Year 9 to Year 11 being offered numerous opportunities to sample as many different sport activities as they could, including many that they may never have tried before - from Yoga, Zumba and HIIT to Martial Arts, Rugby and even Boot Camps run by the Army.
The sessions were delivered through a mixture of curriculum time and lunchtime clubs but mainly via after school clubs at Homewood and tasters at nearby Tenterden Leisure Centre, which was very supportive of the initiative.
Also lending their support were three former Homewood students: Yoga teacher Hannah Stewart and Fitness instructor Gemma Catt ran taster sessions, while dance teacher-turned-videographer Phoebe Pullinger filmed all the activity around the school to make a digital record of the event, as well as putting on an afterschool contemporary dance class.
The grand finale to the week on Friday was a 3K Race For Life event to which over 150 girls signed up to run, jog or walk to raise money to help beat cancer sooner. So far this has raised over £1,200 for Cancer Research UK.
Before compiling the activity programme, Kat Beament conducted an essential student survey to find the reasons behind the lack of interest in sport amongst female students and understand how to provide a better learning environment for them to re-engage with sport.
“There were some clear messages in this research that helped me to shape the programme and our approach,” said Kat. “The main barriers that came through in the 70+ responses we received were: a lack of confidence and concern about ‘feeling judged’ by others when exercising. I was therefore determined that we would try boost students’ personal confidence and pure enjoyment from the sessions to show that, when it comes to taking up a form of exercise that suits you, the only judgement that truly matters is your own and if you love what you do you can be unstoppable.”
Kat has been delighted with how successful the initiative has been in achieving these objectives: “It has been an incredible week that has had a massive impact on the participation and confidence levels of our female students. Every lunchtime and afterschool club was filled with girls of all different shapes, sizes and fitness levels. It was also amazing to see girls supporting each other to exercise and try new things – even those who struggle with participating in PE lessons, actively turned up to exercise at lunchtime and in our afterschool clubs. I am beyond proud of how well the girls have embraced the week's activities and stepped out of their usual comfort zones. Because, let's face it, when you come out of your comfort zone, and it works, there is nothing more satisfying.”
About ‘This Girl Can’
This national campaign, funded by The National Lottery, celebrates active women who are doing their thing no matter how they look, how well they do it or how sweaty they get. We want to challenge the conventional idea of what exercise looks like and reach out to women of all backgrounds and ethnicities who feel left behind by traditional exercise.
No one gets to choose how you exercise other than you. Your body, your call. And whatever that looks like, we think it’s worth celebrating. This Girl Can, believes that there’s no “right” way to get active. However you jiggle, kick, lift, stretch, or sprint, it’s time to get moving how you damn please.