Pupils get active at the Aberdeen Youth Games

Health Secretary Shona Robison has hailed a unique sport and culture project for school pupils across Aberdeen during a ministerial visit to the Granite City.

L to R: Liam Guyan, 11, Abigayle Morrison, 11, snowboarder Ben Kilner, Shona Robison MSP, hockey player Leigh Fawcett, Games ambassador Sir Ian Wood, Joud Binknamis, 10, and Daisy King, 10.More than 1,100 primary school pupils from 38 schools converged on Aberdeen Sports Village on Friday, May 29 as the award-winning Aberdeen Youth Games project culminated in a Festival of Sport.

Launched by Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Sport and Exercise Science team and Sport Aberdeen in 2013, the Aberdeen Youth Games is an innovative and multi award-winning programme which promotes health and wellbeing amongst young people.

A Legacy 2014 programme, the initiative has also received support from The Wood Foundation and First Bus, and involves sports coaching, healthy living advice, and citizenship skills.

At the festival, which was opened by Aberdeen Lord Provost George Adam, pupils participated in a number of skills-based sporting activities.

Shona Robisom MSP, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, attended the Festival of Sport alongside other invited guests and VIPs.

She said: “It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a year since the Commonwealth Games. Seeing the Aberdeen Youth Games in full swing shows that the legacy of those Games is still being felt right across Scotland.

Pupils took part in a number of sporting activities at the festival.“The enthusiasm of the young people taking part is inspirational. We often talk about how important physical activity is for health, but we can sometimes forget that it’s great fun as well. That’s a great lesson we can all take from the Aberdeen Youth Games.”

The countdown to the Festival of Sport began with the start of the Aberdeen Youth Games baton relay in April which has seen it visit each of the 38 participating primary schools around the city.

Pupils were given a ‘Selfie Challenge’ to see how many pictures each school can get of different pupils with the baton.

Each pupil who participates in the festival will receive a special commemorative medal which was designed by P5 Middleton Park School pupil Zahra Magaji. It was refined by Communications Design student Sarah Black, and produced at Gray’s School of Art.

Project ambassadors Sir Ian Wood CBE, Scotland’s Women Hockey captain Leigh Fawcett and champion snowboarder Ben Kilner also attended the festival to cheer on the pupils.

Bryan McCann, lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at RGU, leads the Aberdeen Youth Games project and praised the team who work hard throughout the year.

He said: “The Festival of Sport is the culmination of 12 months of effort by all partners involved in the Aberdeen Youth Games programme, and it is great to see the hard work pay off.

rimary school across the city took part on the day.“The pupils have been getting excited about the festival all year, and we hope that this celebration of sport will provide a real sense of achievement and inspiration for them to lead physically active lives in the future.

“This year has been another tremendous success and we hope this programme will become an established part of Aberdeen’s sporting and cultural identity in the coming years.”

Graeme Dale, Senior Development Manager, Active Schools at Sport Aberdeen, added: “This year’s Aberdeen Youth Games has been even bigger, with more schools and pupils participating. This is also true of the Festival of Sport, with just under 40 schools attending.

“We’ve been able to build on last year’s event and it is great to see so many boys and girls enjoying themselves participating in sport.

“With this programme there will be a number of pupils who have never tried the sports on offer before and it is great to see how quickly they have learned new skills.”

As part of the build-up to this year’s Festival of Sport, 30 second year BSc (Hons) Applied Sports and Exercise Science students from RGU have been coaching pupils in athletics, hockey, basketball, tennis and badminton.

The Aberdeen Youth Games aims to encourage young people to lead healthy, active lives.This has been achieved as part of their work placements through Sport Aberdeen this semester, where they have worked alongside 150 students from North East Scotland College, strengthening articulation links between the organisations.

Earlier this year First Bus was announced as the programme’s first official sponsor. The company provided financial support as well as transportation and logistical assistance to collect the pupils from their schools and take them home at the end of the event.

Leading north-east businessman Sir Ian Wood gave his backing to the project in 2014 when he agreed to be an ambassador. His family’s charitable trust, The Wood Foundation, also gave a £10,000 donation to the initiative to help the project this year.

Sir Ian said: “The Aberdeen Youth Games is a tremendous project which reaches a large number of young people across the city and encourages them to lead healthy and active lives while developing strong global citizenship values.

“These key themes, which are vital globally to the success of our future world, are central to the activities of The Wood Foundation.

“Taking part in sport is physically and mentally challenging, builds values and encourages teamwork in young people, all incredibly important in building life skills. In addition, sport highlights the importance of healthy eating and exercise and we see the development of this project as an important contribution to a healthy generation.”

North-east sports stars, snowboarder Ben Kilner, hockey player Leigh Fawcett and footballer Rachel Corsie were also announced as Aberdeen Youth Games ambassadors this year.

As part of the build-up to this year’s Festival of Sport, 30 second year BSc (Hons) Applied Sports and Exercise Science students from RGU have been coaching pupils in athletics, hockey, basketball, tennis and badminton.They have joined Olympic gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE who is also an ambassador for the project and attended the Festival of Sport last year.

Leigh Fawcett is a Scotland Women’s hockey player who played for the national team at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and is now captain of the side. Originally from Aberdeen, she studied Physiotherapy at RGU.

She said: “I’ve enjoyed being part of the project and to see everyone enjoying the festival in full swing has been very exciting and inspirational.

“I was very proud to be asked to become an ambassador for the Youth Games as it’s something which will have a positive impact on so many children. It’s been great being involved today and giving advice and motivation to those taking part.”

Ben Kilner added: “The Aberdeen Youth Games Festival of Sport has been a great day for the pupils and I am sure it will spark some sporting careers in the years ahead.

“It would be great to think there have been a few future gold medallists with us today and I’m delighted to have played my part by supporting this fantastic initiative.”

Throughout this year’s project Communications students from RGU’s Aberdeen Business School have also been working on a series of video clips which follow the project at every stage. These will be premiered to VIPs and guests on the morning of the Festival of Sport and then made available online.

An image gallery of the Aberdeen Youth Games Festival of Sport is available to view online

More information about the Aberdeen Youth Games can also be found on RGU’s website

Release by
Ross Anderson

Communications Officer | Health and Sport

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