Summer sports fun at Ayrshire College

Summer sports fun at Ayrshire College

Ayrshire College, in partnership with Vibrant Communities, has provided free sport sessions to over 1,500 Ayrshire youngsters across their Easter and Summer programmes. 

Under their Connecting Communities initiative - which aims to provide health, fitness and sport opportunities to children and adults across Ayrshire – participants enjoyed sessions in the Kris Boyd and Rose Reilly Football Schools, Kilmarnock Football Club’s Football Camp, Gordon Reid’s Rugby Academy, and a multi-sport camp. 

Ayrshire College’s Sport and Fitness department teamed up with East Ayrshire Active Schools, Vibrant Communities, Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust, Kris Boyd Football Centre, Rose Reilly Football Centre Gordy Reid Rugby Centre to organise the sessions. 

As well as free physical activity, the participating primary and secondary school boys and girls were each given free lunches throughout their time at the Kilmarnock Campus. Throughout the summer, there were over 3,000 free lunches distributed.   

Ayrshire College Sport & Fitness students, along with Vibrant Communities staff, helped to organise and facilitate all of the sessions, with celebration events taking place at the end of the programmes attended by the East Ayrshire Provost – where the children got to meet and engage with Kris Boyd and Rose Reilly.  

John McTaggart, Curriculum Manager for Sport & Fitness at Ayrshire College, established the Connecting Communities initiative in 2019, securing free sportswear for all participants through a partnership with Joma and Only Sport.  

John said: “The strength of this Connecting Communities initiative is bringing all the partners together to create quality coaching opportunities for our students whilst providing free physical activity to a variety of client groups. This enables our students to work in environments that will be so beneficial to their personal and professional development. Our community partners are fully invested in this and will be able offer support and advice to our students who could be future employees of our partners.” 

Kris Boyd was delighted to attend the Connecting Communities and summer football camps.

Kris said: "The summer camps make a difference to the lives of so many boys and girls and we are proud to play a part in it. The staff and the coaches at Ayrshire College work tirelessly to make this happen and they deserve enormous credit. When we hear and read the feedback from parents and children about our camps then it makes us feel very humble and very proud. 

"We will continue to support the camps, all year round, as this is helping the community in so many different ways. The Kris Boyd Charity is delighted to continue its ongoing support for this excellent initiative.” 

Rose Reilly said: I am honoured to be involved in this initiative as it not only allows young girls to access free football, but it is also an opportunity for young girls to come together in friendly environment where above all, they can have fun.” 

Friend of Connecting Communities, Maureen Carr, who played Edith in Still Game, was also in attendance as she is a great advocate for female participation in sport and fitness. So much so she is producing the play 'Rose' which will be in Kilmarnock Centre Stage next month.

Maureen said "I’m blown away with how many young girls have attended these sessions. I know how much Rose has inspired me and my generation, and it is great to see that she is also making a difference to this current generation."

Gordon Reid said "It was great to see so many people attend the sessions. It was the ideal opportunity to deliver rugby in such a fun environment. There were many kids that had never played Rugby prior to attending and the had such a great time. Many of which said that they never realised that Rugby could be so much fun.” 

Cherryl Fulton, Active Schools Coordinator, of East Ayrshire Vibrant Communities said: "This was another fantastic summer for Connecting Communities Community Sports Hub. It fills me with pride to watch the Sports Hub grow. This year we had excellent numbers, with attendances of over 750 young people on a weekly basis. The summer programme is so much wider than sport - young people attending get the opportunity to meet new people, create friendships, form bonds with positive role models, develop positive attitudes towards physical activity and most of all have fun! As well as the physical activity every young person in attendance received a packed lunch ensuring they had access to at least one nutritionally balanced meal each day.  

"This year also saw the Sports Hub pilot the Family Food programme. Whilst our young people had fun in the sports activities, their parents/guardians were invited to be part of a cooking programme, delivered by experienced College staff. The aim of the programme is to empower families to enjoy cooking from scratch, enabling them to make tasty, nutritious meals on a tight budget. 

"This programme would not happen without the strong partnership formed between Ayrshire College, East Ayrshire Council and sportscotland as well as the support of Kris Boyd Charity, Only Sport, Joma and a number of local sports clubs. Without their help we would not be able to run this free programme which is having a positive impact on a huge number of young people and families in the heart of East Ayrshire.”

Suzanne Clark, Service Manager Vibrant Communities, said: "Connecting Communities started with Ayrshire College's move to Hill Street and a simple aim to work collaboratively to help our local young people benefit from the volunteer hours of the Sports students as well as ensure our communities had access to these fantastic facilities.

"Four years on and this project has turned into a really interesting example of how sport can be used as a tool to change lives, winning multiple National awards for the innovative approaches our partnership has taken. While the young people still attend primarily for sport, the offer they receive includes free kit to reduce stigma, free lunches to reduce holiday hunger, mental wellbeing support and safe spaces for young people to talk to coaches and mental health champion peers about their wellbeing. The addition of family activities including the Family Food and adult fitness classes shows the increasing reach and potential that this project could have in the future. While it is great to reflect on the Summer it is just as exciting to consider what will be next for this exciting partnership."

2 September 2022 

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