Carrots weed out couch potatoes

17th October 1997 at 01:00
The Youth Sport Trust, an organisation which aims to reach every child in the country by 2000, has just celebrated its third birthday.

To mark the occasion sports minister Tony Banks gave a big blue bag of sports equipment to the children of Churchill Gardens primary in south-west London. It was the 10,000th bag to be handed over.

The trust was set up with the help of property tycoon John Beckwith who donated Pounds 1 million. It aims to develop quality sports programmes for all from toddlers to 18-year-olds.

The YST works with the Sports Council, co-operating with physical educationists, local authorities and sports governing bodies.

Its driving forces are Duncan Goodhew, the Olympic swimmer, and Dr Sue Campbell, the international athlete and PE teacher . Dr Campbell - now the trust's chief executive - headed the National Coaching Foundation for 10 years.

While at the NCF, she found that teachers wanted a comprehensive sports programme to complement the curriculum. Aided by PEspecialists she devised a series of programmes, known as TOP schemes. It is hoped that TOP programmes will have reached every child by the end of the decade.

At the heart of the programmes is a training scheme for teachers which has already involved more than 25,000 primary staff.

Dr Campbell said the bags and the accompaying resource cards for teachers were the "carrots" to attract schools to the training. "We wouldn't have done it otherwise. We have to find a way of tantalising them."

One of the YST's new projects, TOP Link, was formed to foster continuity between primary and secondary sport and PE. Dr Campbell suggested that secondaries host a sports festival for primaries in their area.

For the schools there is the additional carrot of an Easter camp at Loughborough University for 300 children from the most innovative schools, a professional development conference for their teachers and the top prize of a trip to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Dr Campbell is passionate about sport which, as a top athlete, she saw as an end in itself. But after teaching and then working for four years with the Sports Council on community projects, she realised it could be used to achieve broader objectives.

"Sport can shape people's lives; it can make them feel good about themselves, " she said. Young people should have the chance to go for gold, while others should have the opportunity to have fun, keep fit and stay healthy. And it could lead not only to Olympic medals but to the demise of the couch potato as well.

For further information about the YST, contact Barbara Bond, Youth Sport Trust, Rutland Building, Loughborough University, Leicestershire. The Central Council of Physical Recreation and the British Sport Trust will hold a seminar on initiatives for young people in sport. "What counts is what works" will be held on November 25 in Daventry, Northamptonshire. Details from the CCPR, Francis House, Francis Street, London SW1P 1DE

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