Olympic Champion's Wheely Good Surprise for Manchester Girls
27th August 2013
Olympic Gold Medallist Victoria Pendleton arrived on the football pitch at Stretford High School to interrupt a group of women from Us Girls to present them with a National Lottery Award trophy.
Us Girls is a ground-breaking initiative to get young women aged 16-25 from disadvantaged areas of England more active, by providing them with fitness and sport opportunities on their doorstep.
The Manchester-based project has benefitted from £2.3m of National Lottery funding. It saw off stiff competition from six other organisations to get 5,602 public votes and be crowned the nation’s favourite Sport Project in this year’s National Lottery Awards – the annual search to find UK’s favourite Lottery-funded good causes.
Research shows that young women are far less likely than men to play sport at least once a week1 and those who live in the most deprived neighbourhoods are even more likely to miss out on sport2. However as a result of the Us Girls programme 34,000 more young women in England now play sport.
Victoria presented a group of staff with the Awards trophy and spoke to young women who have changed their lives through taking part in physical activity. She said: “It has been great to see how this project is bringing sport to the doorstep of young women across England where there is limited or no access to activities or facilities.
“National Lottery funding has helped me throughout my sporting career but it’s also giving these young people who could well be our Olympic stars of the future, opportunities to try out sports and make new friends.
“It’s wonderful that the project been recognised by the public as it will carry the Olympic legacy long into the future and help young women to keep fit and stay healthy.”
Karen Keohane, National Programme Manager at Us Girls was stunned to see the Olympian arrive on the community centre’s football pitch this afternoon and said: “I’m thrilled that we’ve won. It means a lot for Us Girls to be recognised by the National Lottery and to be honoured by an Olympic legend today. With the help of National Lottery funding Us Girls is helping more and more young women from disadvantaged communities to get involved in sport, make friends and above all have fun. All the research shows that it makes a massive difference to people’s lives. It can engage young women and help build healthier, safer and more inclusive communities, so there’s an enormous amount to gain from the work we’re doing.”
“I’d like to thank the general public for voting as they make a real difference to projects like ours simply by playing the National Lottery every week.”
Notes to editors
About the charity:
Us Girls is a ground-breaking initiative to get 30,000 young women from disadvantaged areas more active, by providing them with fitness and sport opportunities within their local communities.
The project focuses on 50 specific areas of high disadvantage throughout England offering a range of activities that include dance, football, yoga, badminton, cycling and athletics. There are also day-long local and regional sport festivals allowing young women to try a variety of different sports all in the same place.
The project lays on on-site crèche facilities to allow single mums to take classes and has adapted sessions and venues to allow young women from different ethnic backgrounds to participate.
About the Awards:
National Lottery players raise over £35million a week and that money goes to support people and projects across the UK. The Awards are a great way to show Lottery players where their funding has gone and the life-changing difference playing the Lottery every week is making to communities across the UK.
There are seven categories in the Awards, reflecting the main areas of Lottery funding: arts, education, environment, health, heritage, sport, and voluntary/charity.
Us Girls and the six other winners will be celebrated at a special star-studded ceremony broadcast on BBC One on the 11 September. Winners receive a £2,000 cash prize to spend on their project as well as a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.
1 – Sport England Active People Survey 7 shows that only 30.5% of women play sport at least once a week for 30 minutes
2 - Sport England Active People Survey 7 shows that 22.5% of women from lower socio-economic groups (NS-SEC 5-8) play sport every week compared to 34.1% of young people from the highest socio-economic groups (NS-SEC 1-4)
3 – Sport England Active People Survey 7 shows that 72% of females aged 16-25 years want to do more sport.
The research was carried out from April 2012-April 2013 and the results were published in June 2013:
For more information contact Lauren Connors on 0207 211 3991/07880 323 069 or email: Lauren.firstname.lastname@example.org