I was with the fifth year in high school, helping out a local primary sports day, when a Sportscotland Active Schools coordinator spoke to us about volunteering in South Lanarkshire. I was so enthusiastic about sport and volunteering that the next day I phoned up to get involved, and it all fell into place from there.
I work across Holy Cross Learning Community with six schools – five primary, one secondary – on lots of initiatives to introduce young people to a more active lifestyle. These range from sporting events, team-building days at the high school and school extracurricular clubs, to girl-participation projects, such as Active Girls and girl-only clubs.
One of the main initiatives I work on, and one that I find most rewarding, is the Active Schools transition programme.
It’s open to all P7s across the schools that I work with, and I get to introduce pupils to an eight-week sports programme at the high school.
When we all think back, we always remember how nervous we were going through that transition period, from P7 to S1 – meeting new friends and learning in a completely new setting. It was all very scary. That’s why I love running this programme and seeing P7s enjoying sport while meeting new friends.
The pupils get to meet their future peers, take part in activities in a fun and social setting, and find out first-hand which clubs they could get involved with at high school.
These types of programmes are mainly run by senior secondary pupils, all of whom volunteer their time to help run the sports classes and sessions, and are amazing at getting the younger kids more involved. Volunteer roles such as these have now opened doors to many similar initiatives; they have pushed them to take part in and complete sports leadership awards. Most students also volunteer their time at lunchtime and after school, visiting local primary schools to deliver activity clubs and fitness sessions for younger kids.
I started out as a volunteer at a local sports day; now, I have one of the most rewarding jobs I could have imagined. On a daily basis, I work with young volunteers who are all interested in developing a career in sport and working with kids, and I really couldn’t recommend this job enough to them.
The advice I always give to all my pupils and volunteers interested in a similar career is to gain as much experience as you can while you’re still in school, volunteer as much as you can, take on as much as you can, be passionate about what you do and keep on leading the way. I believe sport can have such a positive effect on people’s lives.
Laura Somerville is a Sportscotland Active Schools coordinator at Holy Cross High School in South Lanarkshire