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  • 23 May 2014 00:00
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Virgin Active and leading sports charities launch campaign to tackle youth inactivity

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Virgin Active have joined with a number of leading sports charities and educational organisations to launch a five-year Active Inspiration campaign designed to tackle rising levels of youth inactivity.

The campaign headed by the health club chain comes with new research showing that one in five (19%) young people go at least a week without undertaking vigorous physical activity, such as running or playing football, outside of school.

It also shows that nearly one in ten young people (9%) never undertake any light physical activity outside of school while one in eight (13%) admit to rarely exercising in school.

This trend is heightened with girls, particularly those in the older year groups. 

One in six (17%) girls never do any vigorous activity such as hockey or tennis outside school, and 13% never do any in school hours.

For 16 year olds, this rises to four-in-ten (39%) not doing any intense exercise in school and nearly a third (31%) outside of school hours.

By bringing together and collaborating with experts from the public, third and education sectors, Virgin Active will deliver a series of initiatives to give 500,000 young people access to activeness over the next five years, focusing on activity both in and out of schools.

The first year of Active Inspiration will seek to tackle two specific problems: stopping young people falling off an activity cliff as they get older and addressing the fact that girls become increasingly inactive as they approach and enter their teens.

"We are in the midst of an inactivity crisis which is most severe among young people and, in particular, young women,” said Managing Director of Virgin Active in the UK Matt Merrick. 

"By working with young people directly, expert organisations and the communities throughout the country to which our clubs belong, we will enable 500,000 young people to experience a more active life both in and out of school. 

"We hope that we can inspire them and play a role in stopping them being sucked into the expanding black hole of youth inactivity."

In its first year, the campaign will focus on tackling these issues through collaborating with organisations whose knowledge and skills complement Virgin Active’s expertise in activeness.

In partnership with the Women Sports and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), Virgin Active is aiming to help young girls change their attitudes to activeness. 

In partnership with Youth Sport Trust, Virgin Active is linking up with ten Primary School networks across five UK cities to offer Active Crew, a 24-week programme designed to improve levels of fitness. 

The in-school programme, which is also available in Virgin Active clubs to junior members between 8-16 years, will provide 240 sessions to 300 pupils.

In partnership with Enabling Enterprise, Virgin Active will support the development of enterprise and employability skills through Active Minds: a Primary and Secondary school programme focused on taking activeness beyond PE and changing the way it is taught through the curriculum in five schools with 150 students. 

The Active Inspiration partners will work together with Virgin Active to reach young people in the communities around its clubs and to work directly with them to change behaviour.

"Living an active lifestyle is something which should be the norm for every young person,” said Active Inspiration Ambassador Helen Skelton.

"It’s worrying this is not currently the case.

"Staying active shouldn’t feel like a chore so it’s important to find something that’s fun and sociable, so it can become a part of the everyday."

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