20 November marks the start of the week-long campaign ‘This Girl Can’. While the campaign has a national reach, the governing body for British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) has also launched its own initiative that specifically targets women in universities. The national campaign, developed by Sport England and funded by The National Lottery, aims to get women of all ages and backgrounds involved and active in sport.
One of the focuses of the national campaign is to increase activity in the lives of women with children. Statistically this group is less likely to exercise regularly, with the demands of children taking priority over activities and sports beneficial to the health of the mother. As a result, ‘This Girl Can’ highlights the exercises available to these women too, offering post-natal classes for new mothers in which both the mother and baby can be present. Other activities on offer include swimming classes which are beneficial for the development of the baby and the mother.
The campaign, first started two years ago, has enjoyed incredible support and impact despite its infancy. Sport England report that 2.8 million women have become more active as a result of the initiative, with 250 000 more women now taking part in sport once a week since the start of the campaign. The more targeted BUCS campaign aims to get women in universities involved in sport across Britain. The main goal of the campaign is to increase the participation and activity of women in sport, to get people involved and to have fun while doing so. This is for those who have maybe stopped playing sport, those who have never grown up playing sport or those that have never really found the right sport for them.
The campaign draws necessary attention to the lower number of women who participate in sport, with 8.6 per cent fewer women than men taking part in sport once a week. The intention of the BUCS campaign is to raise awareness of sport going on at universities to try and increase the number of people participating. As a result, the York Sports Union is putting on a number of taster sessions along with a social media campaign. Information will be relayed on the televisions throughout campus regarding key female athletes across many sports and how they got involved in their sport of choice.
Many sports teams are eager to increase involvement in their women’s teams, such as shooting and darts. The campaign to get women active in sport provides a perfect lens through which to see the wider movement and context of attempts to increase activity in sport for people of all ages and backgrounds. While this campaign focuses on women, it is important not to neglect the campaigns for other groups to also get involved in sport. Several taster sessions are taking place during ‘This Girl Can’ week and are great ways to try out new sports, which include cheerleading, MMA and tag-rugby.
Other great ways to get involved include the club runs that occur twice a week at the Athletics Club. There are a range of groups suited to all abilities, with a year’s membership for all club runs costing only £20, or alternatively, one can pay £50 for access to the track as well. This is a cheaper alternative to a gym membership but also a fantastic way to combine socialising with exercise. In addition, another way to start running is the 5k YorActive Trail that connects Campus West and Campus East together. Built last year, thanks to donations of York alumni, the trail not only maps out an accurate route for you to run but there is also equipment located along the route so you can incorporate strength exercises into your cardio workout.
A further event to note if you’re looking to get involved in York Women’s Rugby Club is the ‘reclaim the night’ march on Saturday 25 November at 5.30pm in St Helen’s Square in order to stand against sexual violence and harassment. While the campaign only lasts from the 20-24 November, the York Sport Union President Laura Carruthers is keen to consistently engage people to get active throughout the year, not only during campaign weeks. Linked to this comes the announcement that the equal opportunities campaign will be relaunched during the Spring Term. This initiative is a great way to get active, offering novice gym sessions to people who are looking to get involved but who don’t really know how to. As a vital way to stay up to date with the campaign’s developments, make sure to check out the York Sport Union and their President, Laura Carruthers SU, on Facebook for all things sport-related happening on campus from week to week.