More girls in Northern Ireland have been trained as coaches through a first of its kind residential camp.

The Girls Active Coaches Camp NI, developed by national children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, enabled 32 girls from across six secondary schools to attend a three-day residential camp which developed their leadership and coaching skills. The camp enabled them to have the skills to get their peers active and begin their journey into coaching.

The Camp was supported by Department for Communities and Sport Northern Ireland through the ‘Active Fit & Sporty’ project and working in partnership with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

Sport Northern Ireland CEO, Antoinette McKeown said:

“We’re delighted to have supported the delivery of the first Girls Active Camp held in Northern Ireland. We have seen the positive influence that girls can have on each other and in supporting friends to be active through sport and physical activity. I look forward to seeing each of the projects develop and delivered at a local level by these fantastic Active, Fit & Sporty role models.”

The camp was the culmination of all the existing Girls Active work currently being delivered across Northern Ireland involving over 30 secondary schools to date.

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:

“While we have been delivering youth leadership camps for over 20 years as a charity, this is the first time in Northern Ireland that we have delivered a residential programme like this focussed specifically on young women who have a real appetite for ‘activism’.

“Throughout the camp we have focussed on how to harness young people’s talents and make a difference to others both in and through sport. Our research around barriers to girls participating in physical activity and sport tells us that one of the best ways to engage girls is through encouragement from their peers – and that is exactly what this experience was about.”

Kathryn Hill, Director of Active Communities, said:

“The Department for Communities is delighted to support the Youth Sport Trust as it delivers another exciting opportunity for young girls to get involved in sport and physical activity.  The Girls Active Camp builds on the valuable work the Trust has already done to date as part of the ‘Active Fit and Sporty’ project, which aims to increase female participation in sport and physical activity – one of the key priorities for the Department.  I am sure that the girls attending the Camp will immerse themselves in what will no doubt be three days of stimulating sessions and workshops.  I hope that everyone attending this weekend enjoys their experience and returns to their schools confident that they can inspire and encourage their classmates and friends to get involved in sport and physical activity”.

Girls aged 13 to 16-years-old attended the camp at Ulster University between 15 and 17 February and were inspired by outdoor adventurer Nikki Bradley, who shared her experiences of overcoming adversity and completing daring adventures including the Four Peaks Challenge and scaling Icelandic glaciers.

The young people who attended will come away with the knowledge and confidence to lead four weeks of activities back in their schools to their least active peers. They also completed either a foundation coaching award delivered by Netball Northern Ireland or Disability Sport Northern Ireland and took part in workshops and fun activities including circus skills team building and clubbercise.

Teachers were supported through their own workshops with activation funding given to schools to support their activities back in school.