ukactive and Nike have today (8 December) revealed the results of the Open Doors programme, which provides safe and exciting spaces for children and young people to keep active over the summer months.
Open Doors was recognised in the Government’s recently published ‘Get Active’ strategy for sport and physical activity as a strong example of how unlocking school facilities can help to keep children healthy and active outside of the school calendar.
The 2023 programme offered sports, activities and food to children and young people in underserved communities across London and saw more than 2,000 visits.
Key findings from the Open Doors 2023 report:
- 82% of Open Doors participants were eligible for free school meals.
- 61% of participants were female.
- 24% of participants had a special educational need or disability.
- In terms of the ethnic groups represented, 20% were White or White British, 30% Black or Black British, 15% Mixed, and 35% ‘Other’ non-White ethnic group.
The Open Doors model forms part of ukactive’s Schools as Community Hubs policy, which makes the case for the unlocking of school playing fields, halls and courts over the school holidays.
School facilities form 39% of community sport facilities but often remain closed or inaccessible during school holidays. ukactive research has shown that there is a 74% loss in cardiovascular fitness among children and young people during the summer holidays.
The Open Doors 2023 programme aimed to engage more young girls to see the benefits and enjoyment of taking part in sport and physical activity, through a range of activities, including judo, dance, bubble football and roller-skating as well as traditional sports.
These results indicate success in achieving the programme’s objectives of getting more young girls benefitting from and enjoying physical activity, as well as ensuring the full inclusivity of the programme across a diverse range of groups to help reduce inequalities.
The Open Doors programme puts no additional pressure on schools, with activities for the 2023 sessions run by local delivery partners across London, including Enfield Judo, Move with Bisi, Harding Dance, JUMPLDN, Team Get Involved, JAG, Excel Activity Group and Active Leaders Award.
Junior leadership roles were also undertaken by some of the older children involved in the programme, helping to improve their confidence and leadership skills, and supporting many to make the transition from key stage 2 into secondary school.
The new findings also highlight the benefits experienced by participants, who reported that the activities on offer were inclusive, they enjoyed the range of activities they could try, they had the opportunity to carry on with the activity at the end of the programme and they were able to keep active in a ‘non-judgemental’ environment.
Guidelines from the Chief Medical Officer recommend children and young people aged five to 18 should get an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity a day across the week.
Yesterday’s figures from Sport England’s Active Lives Survey for Children and Young People, covering the academic year from 2022-23, showed that girls continue to fall behind boys in their levels of activity with boys remaining more likely to be physically active (51%) than girls (41%). There is also a broader ethnicity gap with 40% of Black children being active compared to 50% of White British children. This showcases the real importance of programmes like Open Doors that are engaging young girls and ethnic minority children to feel the benefits and enjoyment of physical activity.
Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “Through the three years of the Open Doors programme, we have been able to give thousands of children and young people the opportunity to access a wider range of sports, activities and nutritious food in a safe and familiar environment over the summer period.
“Open Doors has now been recognised by the Government, as influential in the development of the Opening School Facilities funding and was referenced within the recently published Get Active strategy, demonstrating the strength of the programme’s success.
“It’s great to see the high numbers of girls we’ve engaged in the programme this year and we will continue to work with Nike and our partners to ensure the Open Doors model is supported more widely to provide millions more children with the holiday provision they deserve.”
John MacAvoy, Nike athlete and Iron Man, said: “Open Doors shows what is possible if we can bring physical activity into the lives of every child and young person in our communities.
“We know this model can be especially powerful at reaching those with fewer opportunities to be active, including girls and children from less affluent background and communities.
“We must listen to what our children and young people want and it is great to hear such positive feedback about how this programme made them feel more confident, happier and more connected with each other over the holidays.”
Read the full report on Open Doors 2023, here.
Download the Open Doors Blueprint here – a practical guide aimed at schools, local authorities, activity delivery partners and funding organisations.