Women in Sport in partnership with the Fatherhood Institute, Fulham Football club and the EFL Trust is celebrating after being awarded £118,301 of National Lottery funding from Sport England to help low income families in London get active with their children over the next year. The programme will replicate a programme which was designed by the University of Newcastle, Australia. It will specifically target dads and daughters in the UK.
Sport England’s Active Lives Survey reveals that only 54% of adults on a low income and with children are active, compared to 71% of those in higher-income groups. Girls in lower socio-economic groups are even less likely to be active, with half of girls aged 5-15 in families with the lowest household income doing less than 30 minutes daily outside school (Health Survey for England, 2015). Overall only 26% of girls aged 5 -7 meet Chief Medical Officer guidelines for physical activity outside school. By age 13-15, this drops to just 9%.
Parents often see their role as helpers rather than role models in encouraging their children to be active. Research by the University of Newcastle (Australia) found that fathers are less involved with their daughters than mothers, tend to spend less time with daughters than sons and don’t acknowledge their role in fostering their daughters’ physical activity behaviours.
Sport England has dedicated a £40-million National Lottery funding pot to address this by helping families get active together, and Women in Sport in partnership with the Fatherhood Institute, Fulham Football Club and the EFL Trust is one of 10 to receive awards in the latest round of investments.
The fund is a key part of Sport England’s focus on helping young people have an enjoyable experience of sport and physical activity, so they develop a positive attitude towards being active at an early age and continue being active in later life.
Sport England are funding organisations that help families get active together, because parents and close family members can have a big impact on children’s experiences. Parents who are active themselves and enjoy it can encourage positive feelings about exercise and its value in their children. Yet many parents lack the skills or confidence to take part in sport with their children as they fear they cannot keep up.
Each of the funded projects will work to address this by building adults’ confidence around getting active with their children, and by providing experiences for families that are enjoyable, convenient and low cost.
With this new National Lottery funding, a programme targeting daughters and their dads, developed by University of Newcastle (Australia) Professor Philip Morgan and his team, will encourage fathers/father-figures to play a greater role in supporting their daughters to develop physical confidence and competence and involve girls aged 5-11 in shaping how their families get active together.
Professor Morgan commented: “By harnessing the unique relationship between fathers and daughters, our programme has been shown to significantly improve the physical activity levels of families in Australia. It is very exciting to be involved in the world first adaptation of the programme and to examine the impact on families in the UK”
Fulham Football club will deliver weekly 90-minute group sessions combining practical and educational activities, the programme teaches girls sports skills through fun games and physical activities and educates fathers about positive lifestyle role-modelling and parenting strategies.
Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said:
“This will encourage families to get involved in sport together and increase opportunities for people to get active in their local community. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this programme will have on people’s health – both physical and mental – and how it can help nurture a life-long love of sport and physical activity.”
Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director, said:
“Parents have many demands on their time and can lack confidence in how to get active with their children. That’s why Sport England is working hard to make getting active or playing sport with your children an easier choice. It doesn’t matter what people do or how good they are, having fun together is what is important and helps ensure children continue to be active adults.”
Ruth Holdaway, CEO Women in Sport, said:
“We and all of our partners are delighted to have received funding from the National Lottery to fund this important work, enabling us to challenge stereotypes about girls playing sport, and increase fathers’ confidence and ability to act as role models in relation to their daughter’s participation in sport and physical activity.”