Read time 5 minutes
Up next in our Humans of Grassroots Sport series is Jennifer Frost – Active Communities Event and Communication Manager
Sport has held a special place in my heart from a young age. I played a lot as a kid growing up in Somerset and matches were a great way to see more of the country and spend time with friends. I went on to play football to a high level and then to study sports science.
After earning my degree, I was considering my next steps when I came across a job advert for Active Communities Network (ACN). I applied for an administration role within the events department as it was the ideal balance between my passions and skill set to make a lasting difference.
ACN’s ethos matches mine perfectly and I haven’t looked back since. The aim of the initiative was beautifully simple, use sport as an alternative way of engaging and inspiring young people better enable them to make positive life choices.
The scheme started in Southwark and Lambeth, but through hard-work and dedication we have expanded into all 32 boroughs around London and have offices across the UK in Manchester, Belfast and Hampshire as well as internationally in Ireland and South Africa.
We partner with trusted local delivery organisations who have an excellent knowledge base in the areas we operate. This local knowledge combined with our methodology allows us to deliver training and development which is specifically targeted to meet area needs.
My natural job progression has seen me move into a communications role and event manager. Here, among a number of other jobs, I create a lot of case studies and see first-hand the impact sport has had in engaging youth groups across London and the rest of the UK.
This gives us the platform to educate and give the young people the best chance of success in the future.
This can be anything from getting kids young people into work experience schemes, job training or gaining non-accredited and accredited training qualifications.
Much of what we do is mentoring.
Providing someone other than a parent or teacher to ask advice from really has long term benefits. Our volunteers and youth workers are brilliant and are always there for support on a wide range of topics which may be off limits with other people.
The tight knit community feel of ACN means we all get stuck into all aspects of the projects. Recently I was asked to help at a cooking session and the next day I’ll be back football training and then back in the office doing the day to day roles. I’ve coached in Ireland and London over the years and love it, despite being unable to play to same level growing up.
One of the best sports programmes to engage kids in local communities is our B Active initiative. We are working with Lucozade, Ribena Suntory (LRS) to provide young people with access to sports and physical activity regardless of financial circumstances.
The programme is focused on young adults, 16+ and has been developed to improve wellbeing and future prospects of those whose situations could prevent them from engaging in a more active, healthy and productive lifestyle.
B Active is doubly important as the younger age groups still get access to sports through school, but the drop off in physical activity is huge at 16 and above as the costs are significant once they are out of the school system. It doesn’t make early prevention any less important, but our aim is setting up the young people for life and sport plays a vital role in engagement.
Sport encourages the young people to be active and improves physical and mental well-being – both of which are intrinsically linked. We promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and, for me, sport is such an important part of life and being happy within yourself.
Sport is a fantastic mechanism to get our youth groups to participate in our projects and then it’s down to us to set people up for life.
To find out more about Active Communities and the B Active initiative – check out more details here.
BY - Will Chrimes
4 September 2018