Killicomaine Junior High School recently attended the Youth Sport Trust Annual Conference Awards Dinner, having become one of four schools shortlisted for ‘Best Secondary School of the Year in the UK’ for outstanding contributions to the Girls Active programme. Held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, the awards aim to reward those who have used sport to change the lives of young people across the UK for good. On the night, Killicomaine JHS received a highly commended award for their section, having demonstrated their passion for getting all girls in their school active and engaged in sport.

Delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, the Girls Active programme in Northern Ireland is funded through the Active, Fit and Sporty partnership, supported by the Department for Communities and Sport Northern Ireland. The Girls Active pilot programme ran for five months in Northern Ireland during 2017 in several schools in the Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon and Lisburn & Castlereagh council areas. Girls Active has continued into this year, with 17 schools participating in the programme in NI.

Killicomaine JHS established their Girls Leadership and Marketing Squad (GLAMs) at the outset of the programme, made up of six girls from years 9 and 10 who acted as the pupil voice for PE in the school. They represented the views of all the girls about the physical activity they do at school. Most of the sports available prior to Girls Active were fairly traditional according to gender and this intervention was designed to deliver both for the high-achievers in sport and those who considered themselves less sporty.

The six GLAMs girls worked alongside PE teacher Mrs Hillis to create a survey for pupils which looked specifically at those girls who did not enjoy PE and did not regularly attend extra-curricular sports activities. The results of these surveys suggested there was demand for after school football, rugby and dance sessions. These groups were established as after-school programmes and were delivered in partnership with ABC Council, Portadown Rugby Club and Ulster Rugby.

On top of their school work, the GLAMs girls were busy organising events during the school year to promote the Girls Active programme. They organised a physical activity assembly where Ireland 7s women’s rugby international Louise Galvin was invited to share her sporting journey. Along with Mrs Hillis, the girls also headed up the creation of Killicomaine’s ‘Like a Girl’ video, based on Always’ viral video – this encouraged all the girls in their school to run, throw, fight and hit just ‘like a girl!’ The GLAMs have continued to promote Girls Active through creating eye-catching noticeboards, organising new activities and heading up a transition sports day for local primary schools.

Sport NI CEO, Antoinette McKeown offered her congratulations, “A huge well done to Killicomaine Junior High School for this outstanding achievement. Today, we are celebrating International Women’s Day and it’s especially inspiring to see the passion and drive of these young women in spreading the message that sport is for everyone and that everyone has the power to enjoy, engage and excel in their sporting ambitions.

I wish them continued success in their efforts to encourage more of their peers to get active and enjoy all the physical and mental benefits of being Active, Fit and Sporty.”

Through the Active, Fit & Sporty interventions Sport NI will continue to work with our partners in Department for Communities, Female Sports Forum and others to offer opportunities for women and girls to become more engaged in sport and work towards getting all girls active!


Killicomaine’s ‘Like a Girl!’ video can be found here