This Girl Can: Why are we doing this?
This Girl Can is a national campaign, launched by Sport England, in 2015. Its original aim was to get women involved in physical activity, as data at the time was showing there was a gap in the number of women taking part in sport/physical exercises, versus men nationally.
However, they began to realise there was a differentiation between the women who engaged with the campaign, and appreciated there needed to be a more focussed approach:
“Research conducted by the government organisation found that despite inspiring almost three million women to take up physical activity since the campaign’s launch in 2015, it hasn’t reached all women “to the same level”. For example, 33.5% of women in lower paid, routine and manual professions are inactive (do less than 30 minutes of exercise a week), twice as many as for women in senior and managerial roles” – This Girl Can UK
Despite the success of the campaign, and subsequent ones that institutions developed themselves, there are still a number of inequalities’1 in physical activity uptake across different communities and the rest of the country, particularly amongst women. New analysis shows that 34% of adults in the most deprived areas of England were classified as inactive, compared to the national average of 23%2.
Studies have also found that BAME groups3, the LGBT community4 and people living with disabilities5 come below the national average in physical activity levels, and within those groups’, women were less likely to exercise than men, due to a variety of social, cultural and environmental factors1.
What has this got to do with Northumbria?
Women make up approximately 56% of students at our Newcastle based campuses. This year’s main aim for This Girl Can (Northumbria) is to react to the feedback given last year in our survey, whilst also incorporating national findings from the This Girl Can UK research.
In last year’s survey there was 182 responses.
• There were many demographic groups presented.
• 63.7% of respondents participate in sports.
• The main sports were gym (1), swimming (2), football (3), gymnastics (3), running (3) and yoga (3).
However, there was some variation between males and females.
• 46.7% perceived there is a barrier to engaging in sports.
• Time and cost were the greatest perceived barrier. Other frequently mentioned barriers included lack of activities and facilities at coach lane and a perceived lack of ability to participate.
• Responses for what would encourage students to participate in sports were divided into 9 themes: Advertisement and information, Classes or training, Coach lane, Cost, Inclusion and less competitive sports, Taster sessions, and Time.
• Lower cost was the greatest theme that would encourage greater encouragement in sports.
• Time and cost were perceived as the two biggest barriers to engaging in sports activities (in particularly, time for students on placements) – Keywords: Cost, expensive, fees, money, price, time. • Lack of facilities and activities at coach lane - Keyword: CLC. • Perceived lack of ability to compete also came up frequently.
To tackle the main barriers, we have ensured that most of the activities promoted this week have no cost attached to them and that it is 90% student led which should hopefully break down the perceived lack of ability to participate. We have also developed our own fitness tutorials, which promote free exercise and show that you don’t have to be an athlete to do a workout. Students can access this in the comfort of their own home and it will be accompanied by exercise hand out cards which explain different types of exercise routines, which students can keep on them. This should reduce the stigma of embarrassment to those new, or returning to, physical activity.
All sessions are open door so any student and staff member of Northumbria can attend. The sessions will take place at the Newcastle based campuses. There is a variety of activity, at a variety of times, so any student should be able to find something that fits alongside their studies.
We also started advertising the coming of the campaign much earlier than last year, so that students were aware of the dates that the activities would be taking place.
In terms of lack of facilities and opportunities at CLC, it was on my manifesto this year that I would push the re-opening of the gym. I have had chats with the Student Sport President, and we are currently in the process of planning and implementing a scheme that ensures students at CLC can access physical exercise, in a variety of ways.
Other focuses of This Girl Can include taking the Period Poverty Campaign to the Board of Governors and the Universities Director of Finance. I am also going to be involved in a survey group which looks at the available access points for menstrual products, across campus, and their costs.
Finally, we are looking at the systemic barrier’s women face. There will be an imposter syndrome workshop through the week, if you don’t know what imposter syndrome is, then definitely get yourself along. It will be led by a Postgraduate student who is also a society committee member. We will also be launching our Women in Leadership Development academy, where students who get involved can participate in workshops, a women-led book club for free, with the first boom being Michelle Obama’s: Becoming, and gain access to a network of leaders in the North East.
Why is getting involved so important for you?
The NHS reports6 that regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of a menagerie of illnesses:
35% lower risk of Coronary hearts disease and stroke
50% lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes
50% lower risk of Colon Cancer
20% lower risk of breast cancer
83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
30% lower risk of depression
30% lower risk of dementia
It has also been found that regular exercise, whether light or intense, can help improve your memory too7! Which is a bonus when you’re a student. Regular exercise can also improve emotional resilience8. For those who have been diagnosed with ASD activity participation was related to more friendships and one study highlighted the impact of social engagement with peers in developing and maintaining friendships as well as managing internalising problems9.
What can you expect from the week?
Throughout the week I will be posting a daily inspirational woman, not necessarily in Sport. We will be releasing content that shows off the women we have here at Northumbria, in our Sports Clubs, Societies and Volunteering Groups.
You can also grab a Howay the Lasses badge to keep, so when you wear it you can look down and remember that no matter what level you are getting involved at, you’re still smashing it!
I have also partnered up with the University to do a clothes haul for Smart Works and Crisis. So if you want to donate any clothing, handbags, shoes, Jewellery etc. Please pop them over to the SU!
Quayside Bike ride 1pm-3pm
Commercial Dance Class 5-6pm (Reds, SU)
Netball 5pm-6pm (Sport Central)
Karate 8:30pm-10pm (Lipman)
Tap Dance Class 8-8.45 (Reds, SU)
Hip Hop Dance Class 8.45-9.30 (Reds, SU)
Free, unless you need to hire a bike (£5) – just sign up https://www.letsride.co.uk/rides/active-newcastle-monday-social-ride-114
All others: Free
Imposter Syndrome Workshop 12-2pm (TR3, SU)
Give it a Go Pole Fitness 3.45pm-4.45pm (The Quad)
Virtual Yoga 8.15am-9.15am (CLC West B001)
Laughing Yoga 1pm-2pm (CLC West, SU)
Beginners Pole Fitness Class 4.45pm-5.45pm (Reds)
Football 5pm-6pm (Coach Lane)
Yoga 6pm-7.30pm (Stage 2)
Quayside Bike Ride 10am-12pm
The “Final Girl” Karate workshop
Jazz Dance Class 1pm-1.45pm (Stage 2)
Contemporary Dance Class 2.45pm-3.30pm (Stage 2)
Fitness and flexibility Class 3.30pm – 4.15pm (Stage 2)
Student Rep rounders 1pm-2pm (SU)
Matches to watch in Sport Central:
- Basketball w1 and w2
- Netball w1 and w3
- Volleyball w1 and w2
- Waterpolo w1
Salsa and Bachata 7.30pm-11pm (Reds)
Free, Unless you need to hire a bike (£5), just sign up https://www.letsride.co.uk/rides/active-newcastle-wednesday-ride-social-beginner-5
Check out Northumbria Sports Website for match starting times! Come and support our teams and watch a game or two.
All other events Free, except Salsa and Bachata which is £3.00
MTS Gala Showcase 6-8pm (Stage 2)
Beginners Pole Fitness Class 6.15-7.15
Women In Leadership meet and Greet 4.30-6pm (The Greenhouse)
Esports 5pm- 6pm (CIS Building)
Korfball 8:30pm-10pm (Sport Central)
Karaoke 8pm-late (Habita)
Glow in the Dark bike ride
Free, Unless you want to hire a bike (£5), just sign up https://www.letsride.co.uk/rides/active-newcastle-wednesday-ride-social-beginner-5
Tickets sold at the Welcome Desk for the Show.
All other events Free.
MTS Gala Showcase 6-8pm (Stage 2)
Rugby Union (5-7pm)
Water Polo 3pm-4pm (Sport Central)
Yoga 5-6pm (S2)
Tickets sold at the Welcome Desk for the Show.
All Fother events are Free
Park Run 9am (Exhibition Park OR Jesmond Dene OR Whitley Bay)
Self-defence class 10am-12pm (Lipman)
Free, just register online (https://www.parkrun.org.uk/newcastle/)
- Sport England Active Lives Survey data and Index of Multiple Deprivation. Available at https://www.sportengland.org/media/13768/active-lives-adult-may-17-18-report.pdf
- Pride Sports (2016). Sport, Physical Activity and LGBT. Available at https://www.sportengland.org/media/11116/pride-sport-sport-physical-activity-and-lgbt-report-2016.pdf
- Sport England (2018). Active Lives Adult Survey May 2017/18 report. Available at https://www.sportengland.org/media/13768/active-lives-adult-may-17-18-report.pdf
- Bernstein EE & McNally RJ. (2018). Exercise as a buffer against difficulties with emotion regulation: a pathway to emotional wellbeing. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2018.07.010