Active promotion of exercise

11th May 2012 at 01:00

Last week, the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) issued a warning that girls in Britain are not getting enough exercise. Visiting schools as an Athlete Mentor, I have been pleasantly surprised by the range of sports on offer, with many schools already providing less traditional options such as dance, yoga and dodgeball.

There will always be a place for traditional games in schools but, equally, sports such as inline skating can teach students valuable lessons about competition, fairness and attainment.

I tried lots of sports before I found mine; I wasn't very good at most and I didn't enjoy them, but then I discovered I had a natural talent for skating and it has made me the person I am today. There is a sport out there for everyone and girls in particular should not give up on being active, as there are so many exciting opportunities.

This academic year, more schools than ever have signed up for Sky Sports Living for Sports projects, which shows that PE teachers recognise the need to engage students of both sexes in a wider variety of sporting opportunities, alongside the importance of ensuring they have appropriate role models.

Every young person needs someone to look up to and be inspired by, and we now have 48 Athlete Mentors working hard in schools across the UK to get pupils striving for success in all areas of their lives.

There will always be students, both male and female, who are shy, indifferent or even averse to participating in sport, but by helping each discover a sport in which they can have fun and enjoy developing new skills, we can engender lifelong, positive attitudes towards sport.

Jenna Downing, champion inline skater and Athlete Mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport, a free initiative delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust.

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