Life-changing impact of sports in North Ayrshire schools

Youngsters enjoy playing football at a community football club. Photo Alan Peebles

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New research into the work of sportscotland has shown the life-changing effects sport has on those who take part in participation programmes delivered by the national agency for sport.

The research looked at sportscotland’s contribution to the Scottish government’s Active Scotland outcomes framework and highlighted the work of several national programmes such as Active Schools, which nationally has helped 97 per cent of participants surveyed feel happier, while 4 per cent of participants are now no longer inactive due to taking part in the programme.

In North Ayrshire survey responses were gathered from 1,346 pupils who take part in the Active Schools programme, including Arran High School. Some of the key findings were: 97 per cent of pupils feel healthier, 86 per cent feel happier, 80 per cent have made friends and 87 per cent
feel included.

The North Ayrshire responses also showed that 3 per cent of pupils were no longer considered inactive thanks to taking part in Active Schools while 66 per cent have been helped by Active Schools to be more active outside of school.

Chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, welcomed the research, he said: ‘This report demonstrates the life-changing impacts of sport participation in schools in North Ayrshire and across the country. With the help of our partners across the sporting system we are determined to keep creating more and better opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to take part in sport.

‘Scotland’s sporting system has shown incredible resilience during what is an extremely difficult period for us all. It has not been easy for Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and local partners but there has been a shared commitment that has allowed us to continue to progress.

‘We remain in the middle of a public health emergency, but as these findings show sport and physical activity is crucial for the nation’s physical and mental health and we are fully aware of the importance of sport’s role in the country’s recovery from the pandemic.’

Minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, added: ‘I fully understand the challenges faced by partners across the sector and the impact COVID-19 is continuing to have on national programmes such as Active Schools.  However, this important research gives us the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the great work that is taking place across Scotland to ensure that people of all ages continue to realise the benefits of sport and physical activity on their physical and mental health.

‘Now more than ever we are aware of the positive links between physical activity and mental wellbeing.

‘It is really encouraging to see so many respondents stating that being part of sport and physical activity programmes at school or clubs is having a positive impact on their mental health.

‘I am also pleased to see that levels of inactivity have dropped due to participation in sport and physical activity across communities – demonstrating the life-changing impact of taking part in sport.’


Youngsters enjoy playing football at a community football club. Photo Alan Peebles