Big shout out to all youth panels

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In April this year the Sport and Recreation Alliance held it's first meeting of the newly-established Youth Advisory Panel. The group is chaired by Valerie Copenhagen, Head of Participation at UK Deaf Sport, and she wants to highlight the crucial role of groups like this.

"Saturday saw the launch of 2020 National Volunteer Week - an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the incredible and inspiring work that millions of volunteers do across the Country.

I’ve just taken on a new voluntary role as chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance youth panel. It is such a privilege to be involved in such a position working alongside committed staff and incredible, passionate and determined young people.

I’ve always had a real interest in youth participation and in particular supporting and enabling other young people to develop confidence and their skills to shout out about what matters to them….but what saddens me is that whilst we have made some progress we still have much more work to do with involving young people in shaping the future and the opportunities available to them.

We have a challenge in our country around children and young people engaging in sport and physical activity. With thanks to Sport England and their latest research on young people.

We know that more than 40% of children in England do an average of more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day, however of that group, only 1.2 million (17.5%) are meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of more than 60 minutes of activity a day, every day of the week.

We know that there is no easy solution to resolving this and so that there are many factors that are at play. We talked about this and other Alliance research at our last youth panel meeting and I was really interested by the views around the room and the ideas being raised.

We talked about the differences of life experiences that decision makers will have had in comparison to young people today and what societal factors play a role in shaping experiences. We talked about what the sector could look like in the future if we don’t improve, support and change the current picture and what steps we could take. 

Whilst we didn’t answer every question on the day and actually left the meeting with more questions to consider, one thing I was 100% sure about is the meaningful involvement of young people is instrumental and integral to taking this forward.

We will continue to debate these areas at future meetings and also hope to work alongside other youth panels across the sector.

So, I end this note wanting to take an opportunity to recognise all the volunteers who are engaged and part of a youth panel – you are doing amazing work and lets collectively continue to challenge agendas and drive change for not just our future but for future generations to come.

We all know there is no simple answer, however what we do know is that there are so many volunteers and organisations trying to make a difference.

We need to shout out more about these organisations and individual volunteers, draw attention to the work that they are doing and the youth panels that exist across the sport and physical activity sector.

The world is hard enough so let’s break down barriers and continue to work collectively to encourage and empower young people, to not only get involved in their local opportunities, but grow the confidence to influence and take on roles within committees to shape future opportunities to come."