Working in collaboration with the charity organisation SportInspired as well as supported by our colleagues at Charlton Park Academy, Wednesday 18th May saw St Paul's Academy host of the 2016 SportInspired Festival. This festival was in aid of national 'Give and Gain Week' and supported by Lloyds Banking Group who sent along 90 of their employees to volunteer at the event. This event was specifically targeted towards those pupils in Years 3 to 8 within the Greenwich Borough who have a special educational need. The aim of the festival was to help instil a love of sport and physical activity in these pupils who may not ordinarily be given the opportunity to engage in such activities as often as they would like.
With the majority of the activities on the day originally planned to be delivered outside, unfortunately mother nature was not too kind to us with regards to the weather and we were unable to avail of our vast outdoor space and facilities at St Paul's. However, we did not let this phase us and despite the continuous rain all day, with some careful manoeuvring we managed to find the space to move everything inside. As a result, it is safe to say that each of the 170 pupils whom we welcomed to SPA, across Years 3 to 8 throughout schools within the Greenwich Borough had a fantastic day! All of the children had the opportunity to experience a range of new and engaging activities, such as tri-golf, boccia, new age curling and polybat, which hopefully will further encourage them to continue participation in sport and physical activity in the future.
One of the greatest highlights of the day was the unbelievable work carried out by each and every one of the 40 St Paul's Academy Sports Leaders throughout the entire duration of the day. All of the external companies who were in school as well as all of the other staff from our neighbouring schools who attended the event simply could not praise our Sports Leaders highly enough. One Lloyds Bank employee commented saying,
‘I volunteer for many organisations, Lloyds give us a wide range of opportunities. This is a great opportunity for pupils, a great venue and even better volunteers in the shape of young leaders’.
It is definitely safe to say that our young leaders more than stepped up to the mark, were true leaders in every sense of the word and were simply awesome across the board! This is testament to the hard work and dedication shown by our sports leaders over the last number of months working extremely hard to prepare themselves for this event. As well as ensuring that all of the kids participating in the event had an enjoyable day, all of our Sports Leaders have gained immensely from the event which is something we also set out to ensure. All of the Sports Leaders notably grew in confidence as the day progressed which was a delight to watch as well as enhancing their leadership, teamwork and communication skills to name but a few. Providing our students with such valuable and worthwhile opportunities is crucial to ensuring their holistic development.
Reflecting on their experiences of the festival, our SPA Sports Leaders expressed how, ‘It was challenging but it’s been a brilliant day. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to make the children smile’ (Tareh, Year 9).
‘This event has really taught me how to be a leader. It has been character building’ (Michael, Year 9).
Students who participated in the event from schools throughout the Borough of Greenwich also liked how they got the chance to work as a team and learn and play new sports on the day. One Greenwich primary school teacher commenting on their overall experience of the festival said:
‘Thank you so much for inviting our school to take part in the festival, the children absolutely loved it and it was organised perfectly! The best school sport event I have ever been to! The team you had were amazing and so supportive of the children the whole time. Just a fantastic day and one they will remember. Thanks again, already looking forward to next year!’
Such positive feedback simply reflects the overwhelming success of the day which was visibly enjoyed by all parties involved, be that pupils, staff or volunteers. As a school, St Paul’s would like to thank SportInpired for their continued help and support, Charlton Park Academy in helping with equipment and the training of our sports leaders, all of the Greenwich schools who participated on the day as well as all the employees from Lloyds Bank who helped to make the day truly memorable.
We look forward to continuing to build upon such positive working relationships as well as ensuring that a legacy for inclusive engagement in sport and physical activity for all is achieved. An event such as the SportInspired Festival simply illustrates the power of sport!