Check out our discussion with Spirit of 2012 Grant and Learning Manager Helen Killingley for Women in Sport Week 2017 #WSW2017
Hi Helen, tell us about what your work at Spirit of 2012 entails.
I’m a Grant and Learning Manager and my role helps Spirit invest in projects that improve everyone’s wellbeing, challenge limiting perceptions of people with disabilities and encourage more volunteering in the community. One of the ways our funding does this is through sports and activities that support people to get more active – regardless of sex, age, race or ability.
You’re also a member of Women in Sport, what have you learnt from it?
Being a member of Women in Sport has taught me how important it is for young women to have a voice, become a member of a support network and meet other like-minded people who want to be healthy. It’s important to make time for wellbeing – both yours and other peoples.
What have your job and volunteer work taught you about the barriers still facing women & girls in sport?
There are a number of factors which are being addressed through the work of Women in Sport and other sports providers. Some of these barriers are unconscious to women and girls, so it’s important to lead by example. This means making sport and physical activity more accessible by changing their gender-biased presentation. Sometimes girls are dissuaded to get involved in male dominated sports. BMX cycling, for example, has a more dominant male presence in its clubs. It’s great to see Women in Sport making strides to overcome this.
Spirit of 2012 has funded Get Out Get Active (GOGA), which supports women and men with and without disabilities to get active together in their local communities. Tell us more!
GOGA is a new project that Spirit of 2012 funds entirely and it encourages people all over the UK to get active and take part in their community. GOGA is delivered by the English Federation of Disability Sports (EFDS) to increase peoples’ sports participation by creating fun, inclusive local activities for everyone. These include walking, swimming, cycling, jogging and other recreational activities.
How do you think sports can be more inclusive?
EFDS and Sport England are making huge strides in understand what can be done in the community to make sports more inclusive. There are many types of disabilities, therefore it’s important to listen carefully to individuals with disabilities about what are their needs.
Why would you recommend people get more involved with physical activities?
Getting involved with sports or general increased activity improves your wellbeing. That’s why Spirit of 2012’s model is #investinginhappiness. Research has proved that exercise and activity can help improve people’s physical and mental health. This in turn can have a positive effect on the community as whole.
You joined the GoodGym to try different activities, what’s that like?
I wanted a hobby that embodied Spirit’s values outside of work – GoodGym was exactly that! It combines exercising and various volunteering projects in my local area. It’s given me the opportunity to get fit, meet new people and play a bigger part in my local area.
What’s your advice for women or girls who want to try new sports and activities?
Take a friend along and try it out for fun. If you’re nervous visit them at the end of a session. The UK is making progress in developing inclusive sport and physical activity opportunities which are open to all regardless of gender, so get out there and try something new.
What sports-themed Spirit of 2012 projects involving women are you most proud of and why?
All of the sports and activity projects have helped increase our understanding of the barriers at a national, regional and local level. We attend the activities and learn from them how sports activities can be more accessible to everyone in the long-term.
What female sportsperson have you met that most inspires you and why?
Zoe Smith was a gymnast but decided to have a go at weightlifting. She’s now a successful Commonwealth champion and European bronze medalist weightlifter. Zoe’s an incredible young woman who challenges limiting perceptions of what women can achieve in sport. She has a great mentality of getting out there and ‘trying’ a sport!