Soho residents set to enjoy fee activities including parkour, street dance and cheerleading

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By poppy_smith | Saturday, September 29, 2012, 15:11

Westminster Council is expanding its provision of sports for vulnerable young people as part of its Olympic legacy, broadening its offer to include free activities like parkour, street dance and cheerleading.

The 'Positive Futures' sports programme, aimed at providing free and affordable sports for local youngsters identified as being 'at risk', was discussed at a meeting of Westminster's Children's and Community Services Policy and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday evening (19 September).

As one of its 12 Olympic legacy projects, the council has pledged to provide at least 100 hours of free sports for young people and is now broadening the scope and appeal of the free activities, including those that may appeal more to girls including street dance, cheerleading and girls-only fitness classes.

Within the council's five-year ActiveWestminster strategy, the 'Positive Futures' programme focuses on providing free and affordable sport 'on the doorsteps' of young people at risk of criminal or gang activity, as well as those who are currently not in education, employment or training.

The Home Office-funded programme is also directly linked to Westminster Council's anti-gangs strategy, 'Your Choice' which aims to reduce gang membership and serious youth violence in Westminster by preventing younger children from getting recruited into gangs and helping existing gang members to leave gang life.

Positive Futures also aims to create 'ladders of opportunity' for vulnerable young people involved in local sports activities. It offers development opportunities for them to train in the coaching and delivery of the programme through volunteering, apprenticeships and paid employment opportunities.

Examples of some of the sports initiatives currently available for young people in Westminster include:

  • Kickz programme – based at Westminster Academy and at estate pitches in Westminster, the Kickz programme provides local young people with a blend of football-based activities from Chelsea (south) and Arsenal (north) football clubs with broader developmental activities including drug awareness, healthy eating, volunteering, career development and gang and crime workshops
  • Neighbourhood Sports Programme – targeted programme providing at least 100 hours per week of free sports and physical activities which take place on estates and in youth clubs in the most deprived wards in Westminster (Queen's Park, Harrow Road, Westbourne, Church Street, Tachbrook and Churchill)
  • 'Edutain' programme – a multi-sports and arts programme targeted at vulnerable young people aged 8-13 years old during their school holidays, helping them to improve their health and fitness, stay safe, make the most of their spare time and achieve. The programme is run in both the north and south of the borough and is very low cost, at only £1 per person per day
  • ActiveStreets – to provide more 'doorstep' sports provision in areas that do not have recreation facilities, sports officers plan to pilot an 'ActiveStreets' programme. Between April and September, from 4pm to 7pm, particular streets will be closed to traffic and parking and solely open for children, young people and parents to use for sports and physical activities such as rounders, hopscotch and football. This project aims to reduce the 'no ball games' culture and make it easier for local young people to get involved in sport
  • ActiveWestminster Passport – this concessionary scheme, which provides free swimming and sports to young people aged up to 19 who live in Westminster, has now been expanded to also include young people who go to school in Westminster

Cllr Steve Summers, Westminster Council's deputy cabinet member for sport and leisure, said:

"One the most important strands of our Olympic legacy programme involves linking up our 'at risk' young people with free sport, and this new broader selection of activities increases the range of young people we can reach with the programme.

"Not all young people enjoy football, and we've recognised this by expanding our provision to a more diverse mix including parkour, boxing, street dance, cheerleading, girls-only fitness classes, table tennis and athletics.

"By providing sport for young people virtually on their doorsteps we hope to help them improve their health and fitness, stay safe, achieve, make new friends and make a positive contribution to their community."



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