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Rosa Kama, Sports Social Media Volunteer for BCOMS (Black Collective of Media in Sport), reports on the 2022 Open Doors programme

The Open Doors programme for 2022 has helped to unlock the UK school’s sports facilities. A collaboration between Nike and ukactive, the scheme gives children and young people the opportunity to connect with each other and engage in physical activity during the summer holidays, at selected schools across London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.

In the aftermath of the pandemic and in the midst of the cost of living crisis, children’s health and wellbeing has never been more important. While six weeks of unstructured summer fun has been a yearly staple for millions of children across the UK for generations, research by ukactive has shown that children and young people lose up to 80% of their cardiorespiratory levels during the holiday period, when they do not have regular PE lessons and scheduled outdoor play time.

Children from lower socioeconomic families are even more adversely affected, with spending on ‘active sport’ at approximately £2.55 per week, providing a significant barrier to participation in expensive holiday engagement programmes.

The purpose of Open Doors is to ensure that children remain active outside of term time by opening up school fields, courts and equipment which generally remained closed and unused over the summer, so that they continue to have the opportunity to enjoy sport and exercise.

The initiative is championed strongly by Nike athlete John McAvoy, who said: “Open Doors allows children to come to a safe space, have positive role modelling and eat healthy and nutritious food. It engages children who wouldn’t be given the same opportunities as other children and to have a level playing field in life you have to give these kids the same opportunities. It’s important that there’s investment in this programme to help young people reach their true potential in life.”

In the instalment of the programme based at New City Primary, the school was attended by two members of Tottenham Hotspur FC U18s, Jamie Donley and Rio Kyerematen. They played football games with the children and took part in an energetic Q&A where they were quizzed about their journey into academy football, training regimes and advice they would give to young children who hope to one day reach their level. It showed how important it is to create environments where children and young people can be inspired to engage in sport.

Key to the development of the programme was to gather feedback on the day. Speaking on her experience, one child said: “It helps me make new friends. We get to do new activities and learn new skills that can help me when I’m older. I never knew I would like volleyball, now I love it!” The benefits of having the programme on their own school site were also noted. She continued: “Everyone knows where everything is, if we need help we know where the teachers are.”

The Open Doors programme is a vital initiative. In the future, the ukactive and Nike teams hope it can be rolled out on a larger, nationwide scale to keep young people active throughout the summer months and beyond.

To find out more visit the Open Doors website here. 

To find out more about the Black Collective of Media in Sport, click here.