Making a splash with free swimming for Bedford girls

35 girls aged between five and 12 years have taken part in a week of free swimming lessons, thanks to a partnership between Bedford-based Housing Association, bpha, Be Active and Sport England. The project aims to give local girls who may not have had access to lessons previously, the opportunity to gain some potentially life-saving skills.

30 sessions took place in total last week at Trinity Arts & Leisure. Parents were invited to apply for a place for girls from local schools, including Shackleton Primary School, King’s Oak Primary School and Queen’s Park Lower School.

bpha’s Community Engagement Team was awarded a £10,000 ‘Inspiring Young Lives Project’ grant’ from Sport England through Be Active, an organisation striving for a ‘healthier and happier Bedfordshire’ by promoting physical activity.

Sport England research (academic year 2022/23) shows that:

  • Girls are less active than boys (44% compared with 51%)
  • Activity levels are lowest for children aged seven to nine (compared with 51% for those aged four to six)
  • Children from the least affluent families are least likely to be active (44% compared with 55% from high family affluence)

Rosetta Triolo, Community Engagement Manager, bpha: “We know from Sport England’s research and feedback from Be Active, that mid-primary age girls from less affluent backgrounds may have fewer opportunities to get involved in swimming than other children. This project is changing that. The feedback from those swimming and their guardians has been so positive, and we’ve already been able to confirm a second course for the first week of the summer holidays.”

One young swimmer said: “I felt nervous because I didn’t know what we were going to do but I enjoyed it when I swam halfway across the pool. I feel happy and I think it’s good if everyone knows how to swim!”