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Innovative sport project secures funding

Catering, hair and beauty, public services and sixth form students were among those at the launch of the Fit4Work programme at Furness College’s Channelside campus. The programme has received £70,000 National Lottery Funding from Sport England to reduce inactivity by including fitness into the students’ timetables. They are pictured with Ross Liddicott who is overseeing the programme and Deputy Principal Curriculum and Quality Mark Nicholson.

[A]n innovative project to include physical activity into students’ timetables at Furness College has received more than £70,000 National Lottery funding from Sport England.

The college’s Fit4Work project looks at the future career aspirations of students and matches this with a tailored programme of exercise.

The aim is to ensure that each student has the specific strength and stamina required to be successful in their chosen careers.

Ross Liddicott, who is overseeing the programme at both the Channelside and Rating Lane campuses, said the programme recognises the different motivations, attitudes and lifestyles of students.

“This project reaches out to those who may not usually get involved in sport by linking activity to their career aspirations,” he said. “So, for example, a Hair and Beauty student would have long days on their feet so their programme could include core strength to support posture while sessions for our Early Years and Education students will look at activity and exercise when working with young children and encourage them to become active within their education setting.”

Students on the scheme, which launched this month, will undertake a survey to determine their activity levels. This will be followed up three-months later to identify whether the student is more active as a result of their involvement with the project.

Deputy Principal Curriculum and Quality Mark Nicholson said the aim was to reduce the number of students who did less than 30 minutes of activity each week and the project would reach out to those who may not usually get actively involved in sport.

“There may be physical, social or emotional barriers to some students choosing an active lifestyle so this helps target those who will benefit most from a programme of physical activity. We hope by working with students in their subject area friendship groups and embedding this into the timetable they will adopt exercise as a lifestyle change and this has many benefits for their future careers.”

Sport England has backed the project as part of its new strategy ‘Towards an Active Nation’ to tackle inactivity. It is investing £5million into projects in colleges that will support their inactive students into regular activity. It has awarded £71,693 to Furness College over the two-year project and the college will contribute a further £15,923 to the total cost.

Sport England research found:

  • Nearly 1/5 (roughly 138,000) college students are inactive i.e. do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week as per England’s Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations. Nearly 2/3 of the inactive group do nothing at all.
  • Students who go to college are more inactive than students who go to sixth form or university.
  • Being active can make a big difference to everyone’s health: 1 in 6 adults in the UK die as a result of being inactive.

It said around one in five college students are inactive and many come from groups that have lower socio-economic status or from ethnic groups that are less likely to be active. Colleges in the programme will target these groups specifically to reduce the activity gap between them and their student peers.

Mike Diaper, Executive Director of Community Sport said: “College is a crucial time in a young person’s development. It is often the first time that activity is not a compulsory part of their study programme and therefore all too many young people become inactive. This funding will allow colleges to be innovative in addressing the needs and desires of their students to help embed activity in their lifestyle in college and for years to come.”

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