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urban sports sessions such as skateboarding, BMXing and scootering at a dedicated facility in Stockton-on-Tees. Prior to its development, young people would take to the streets to practise their skills and tricks, resulting in complaints from local residents who were concerned about anti-social behaviour, inappropriate use of facilities and general safety. As a result, a group of forward-


thinking young Stockton residents launched a campaign lobbying the police and local authority to help them develop a dedicated outdoor skate facility – and the result was Project X.

“Police have reported anti-social behaviour connected to urban sports has been totally eradicated”

Project X received vital support

from Elm Tree community centre, which enabled the group to offer indoor sessions as an interim measure until the outdoor park was built. In addition, it allows Project X to offer activities during winter months when the outdoor facilities are less accessible. With funding from the Sported

Foundation, Project X has built portable ramps for its indoor skate park, rather than loan them from the council. Not only does this mean that Project X can continue to enjoy the safety of an indoor, staffed facility in winter, but it also helped the group be independent, relying only on the space provided by the community centre. Elm Tree community centre

manager Marilyn Surtees says: “The project has had a fantastic impact. As well as changing the image of young people in the area, police have reported anti-social behaviour connected to the sport has been completely eradicated.”

stablished in February 2012, Elm Tree Project X is a community project that runs

Clubs already do a great job, but together they can be hugely powerful, says Mills

societal cost savings of planned or actual initiatives. “It’s quite an incredible tool, because it predicts and measures impact, and it’s very simple to use,” says Parr. “One thing this sector hasn’t done

very well is prove that it works,” adds Mills. “It was really important to provide the sector with a tool that could demonstrate the economic and social value of sport.”

A BUSY YEAR 2013 has been a big year for Sported. The start of the year saw the charity launch its first national fundraising campaign – Choose Sport – and announce a media partnership with The Sun newspaper, followed by a multi- million pound sponsorship deal with Deutsche Bank a few months later. The latter sees the two parties working together to develop Sportseducate, a supplementary education programme that will be rolled out across grassroots sports clubs in London. As part of the Sportseducate programme, Deutsche Bank will provide 33 community sports clubs with funding to develop education programmes for 11- to 18-year-olds at risk of exclusion from school. If the three-year pilot is successful, the scheme will be expanded across the UK. “This is experimental – it’s very new

– but we’re confident it will have a real impact,” says Parr. “Most of these kids do have ambitions, but when they’re at school or home and want to do their homework, there are lots of distractions and difficulties put in their way. If you go to a club where resources and help are available, where you have a coach who you admire telling you to sit down, and mates there who want to sit down and study, that makes a huge difference.” “I opened the Crown and Manor in

Hackney with London mayor Boris Johnson a couple of months ago,” says Mills. “It’s a great multi-sports club with a separate room with desks and chairs

76 Read Health Club Management online at

and a white board. During the evening, the kids come in and do their homework with a volunteer tutor helping. They’ve extended it beyond just a place to do homework and now run lessons there a too. It’s a great example.” Also in June, Sported announced that

it had chosen ukactive as its charity partner for 2013–2014, in a bid to raise both funds and awareness of its work. This is important, because as well as supporting individual clubs, championing the sport for development sector as a whole is a key aim for the charity. “Our sector gets a tiny amount of

government funding,” says Parr. “I believe that’s because, while it’s beneficial for the departments of health, justice, education, sports and the Home Office, it doesn’t fit neatly into anyone’s area, so nobody particularly feels a responsibility for it. “We have to make sure that, when

people think ‘I’d like to put something back into society’, they think of our sector. At the moment we’re not even on the radar.” “Hosting a successful Games required

the co-operation of the entire country,” adds Mills. “That’s something I’ve taken on into Sported. Each individual club is doing a great job, but together they can be hugely powerful. We’re basically saying to the country: last year we were all getting behind the Games – wouldn’t it be great if the whole country now got behind an Olympic legacy project?” “I like a saying of Einstein’s, which says

that life has no meaning except in the service of others,” concludes Parr. “As I get older, I think that’s very true, and I think Sported is an opportunity to turn that into reality.” ●

This feature first appeared in Leisure Management issue 4 2013.

November/December 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

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