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Rise secures £3 million investment to boost fitness and wellbeing activities in schools across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear

Health and wellbeing charity Rise has successfully bid for more than £3 million in funding to continue helping schools across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear to open up their sports facilities and help more communities to get active.

The charity, which is one of 43 Active Partnerships across the country, has been awarded a share of the Department for Education’s £57 million ‘Opening School Facilities’ fund, which aims to support schools to develop extra-curricular opportunities for children and young people and create community links that open their facilities for the local community outside of the normal school day.

Rise has been working with local stakeholders to identify the communities and people that would most benefit from increased access to facilities to help them be more physically active.

The charity has already helped 45 schools to develop extra-curricular opportunities and community links for children and young people across its six local authority areas through a total of £250,000, which it secured during two previous bids to the Opening School Facilities fund between 2020 and 2022.

Now, Rise will receive £3,012,605.00, which is the third largest Active Partnership award in England, that will support over 80 schools to provide new and existing activity projects up to March 2025.

Welcoming the investment, Louise Laws, Rise strategic lead for children and young people’s health and wellbeing, said: “We are delighted to be successful in our latest bid to the Opening School Facilities fund. This is a game-changing sum of money for our schools at a time when it is needed more than ever.

“Schools play a vital role in encouraging children and young people to be more active. This funding will enable more than eighty local schools to open up their facilities for children, young people and the wider community to access new and inclusive extra-curricular activities, co-designed with young people to get them active and moving more.

“It will particularly support those impacted by health, social or economic inequalities living in our most vulnerable communities across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

“We are committed to building on the success of previous funding rounds. Since 2020 we have awarded 45 grants of up to £10,000. The Opening School Facilities programme provides important support and investment to local schools to increase their extra-curricular activities. It aims to give young people a voice and empower them through leadership and volunteering opportunities, which helps them to have access to needs led, inclusive and diverse opportunities to look after their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Schools can use the funding to purchase equipment to deliver new or additional clubs, to train employees to obtain qualifications to deliver new or extra activities and to pay for activity deliverers to run them. They can also use funding to open their school swimming pools for pupils, focusing on providing valuable swimming and water safety lessons outside of the school day.

As well as supporting schools to provide more out of school opportunities for their children and community users, priority is given to projects encouraging women and girls to be more active, those that help disadvantaged communities and culturally diverse communities and for those supporting special educational needs, disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Last spring, Parkhead Community Primary School in Winlaton, Gateshead received £9,000 from Rise to launch its ‘Boogie Bounce’ exercise sessions for children. The grant enabled Parkhead to purchase all the equipment required as well as licences and training.

The workouts involve exercising to music using mini trampolines and are hosted by members of staff and local community members who have undergone specific training.

Michelle Lane, business manager at Parkhead Community Primary School, said: “We know music supports mental health and wellbeing, so by incorporating music with fitness in the form of exercising on trampolines, we can encourage school age children to enjoy physical activity in a fun, supportive and motivating way.

“The sessions are hugely popular. We’ve had a fantastic response to our breakfast and after school club classes. Importantly, it’s a fully inclusive activity and a big hit with our neuro diverse and SEND children too. Without the funding from Rise and their belief in what we have set out to achieve, Boogie Bounce would not be possible.”

Examples of other schools to benefit from Rise funding include Benfield School in Newcastle, which received £10,000 to set up a school and community cycling hub. Whickham School received £9,940 to buy equipment to host after school fitness classes for girls in years 10 and 11. In Northumberland, Cleaswell Hill School received £2,000 to fund equipment for their pupils with special educational needs.

In the recent Active Lives Children and Young People survey (covering the 2021/22 academic year) from Sport England, it was revealed that children and young people’s activity levels overall have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with 47% of children meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of taking part in an average of 60 minutes or more of sport and physical activity a day.  There are rises in both the numbers getting active outside school hours and during school hours which highlights how hard schools have worked to get sport and activity back in a safe and positive way after Covid-19.

However, those from low affluent families are still less likely to be active than those from high affluence (42% compared to 52%) and children and young people going to school in the most deprived places in the country have not seen activity recover to pre-pandemic levels.

There are signs that certain interventions can make a big difference, such as schemes to promote physical activity locally. Working with a range of partners, the Opening School Facilities funding will adopt these learnings to deliver sustained localised activity across England where it is needed the most.

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Louise Laws, Rise strategic lead for children and young people’s health and wellbeing.

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Note to editors: Rise is a charity and one of 43 Active Partnerships in the UK working with business, local government, health and education sectors, and the justice system, amongst others, to develop more active communities across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear. Its objective is to reduce physical inactivity for the achievement of strategic outcomes including increased educational attainment, reduced absenteeism, improved physical and mental health, reduced anti-social behaviour, and safer, more vibrant communities.

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