Dad George and his daughter balancing

Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered Programme

Physical activity is a critically important part of healthy development for children and young people. However, many children in the UK do not meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended physical activity levels of an average of 60 mins or more each day. Girls are less active than boys in every school year, and those from less affluent and diverse backgrounds face particular challenges. 

This is why we created the Daughters and Dads project. Daughters and Dads aimed to increase physical activity levels, sports skills and social-emotional wellbeing of girls aged 5-11 and increase their dads’ confidence and ability to act as role models in relation to their daughters’ participation. 

Taking place, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, between January 2020 and the end of December 2021, Daughters and Dads (DADs) delivered 201 sessions supporting 176 families (392 participants overall). Over a third (35%) of participants were from diverse backgrounds and almost half (49%) came from the three most deprived deciles assessed by postcodes. 

What did Daughters and Dads achieve? 

Despite the restrictions on physical activity in place for most of the project, Daughters and Dads had a number of positive impacts for dads, daughters and the whole family: 

  • Dads, daughters and families were more active. Though it’s difficult to measure because of the impact of the pandemic, the overall activity level of the dads and father figures involved in the project increased as did co-activity levels of daughters and dads and families as a whole, 
  • Getting active together supported bonding and nurtured a positive family dynamic. Daughters were particularly vocal about how much they enjoyed spending time with their fathers. Dads valued the opportunity to get to know their daughters better, 
  • The project helped daughters to develop and improve fundamental movement skills and supported dads with the knowledge, skills and confidence they needed to coach their daughters in a range of sports / activities. This significantly increased the enjoyment and engagement,  
  • The social-emotional skills explored during the project had a significant impact on daughters and promoted a more positive, engaged attitude towards physical activity.  
  • The project successfully raised awareness of gender stereotypes and ways to recognise and address them to limit their restrictive impact on girls’ lives. This was true even among families who, before participating in the project, considered themselves to be aware and supportive of feminist issues 
Now my daughter says, “Come on dad let’s go down the park with the ball.” I never ever would have dreamed that coming out of her mouth. It’s been fabulous.

Delivered mostly online due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project mixed free educational and hands on sport sessions for both daughters and dads (or father figures), supported by resources the whole family could use to be active together and improve their confidence. The sport activities focused on rough and tumble play, fundamental movement skills and fun physical activities whilst the education sessions looked at building personal skills like resilience, critical thinking and perseverance. 

Daughters and Dads was delivered in partnership with the EFL Trust, Fatherhood Institute and University of Newcastle (Australia) through funding from Sport England and the National Lottery Fund. 

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We are always looking to explore new partnership options with organisations and companies keen to advance the cause of women in sport.

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