Last year research by Sport England showed that 7.21 million women in England were enjoying regular physical exercise. These numbers were greatly swelled by the staggering increase of a quarter of a million people thanks to the nationwide campaign, “This Girl Can”.
In Newcastle, “This Girl Can” was a massive success with hundreds of women taking part in events across the city. On 8th March, Active Newcastle in association with Newcastle City Council will be launching its “This Girl Can” 2017 programme of activities with a free 5km UV walk / run / cycle event being staged at Exhibition Park from 6pm. Booking is required and further details can be found by visiting the following Eventbrite webpage http://bit.ly/2lOeWEP
The event is also taking place on International Women’s Day, which makes it extra special!
This Girl Can, commissioned by Sport England and funded by National Lottery players, say that whilst they’ve inspired 2.8m women to get their kit on since the campaign launched in 2015, there’s still a lot more to do. They know:
• 75 per cent of women say they would like to be more active but 31% of North East women say that they worry about what other people think about them when they exercise
• This ‘fear of judgment’ stops being women being active, this can be around appearance (how they look whilst exercising), ability (whether they are good or fit enough) and priorities (how they spend their time)
• The North East has the highest number in England of women doing less than 30 minutes moderate exercise a week at over a quarter, and also the region seeing the largest gap between active men and women (9.8%)
One local woman who benefited from “This Girl Can” is Emma Crowley, aged 31, who works in Newcastle as an office manager. Emma lives in Morpeth and studied Psychology at university. She is an active member of Newcastle’s “This Girl Can” running club that runs around the city, mainly in Exhibition Park, at varying times throughout the week.
“Until I took part in This Girl Can, I’d always wanted to get into running but never really had the opportunity. Active Newcastle’s events have always been accessible, comfortable and everyone involved is really encouraging – you can push yourself as little or as much as you want,” said Emma.
Emma has never looked back. She now runs about three or four times a week, and even takes part in her local weekend ‘Park Run’. She is travelling down to London in March to run a half marathon, and she’s even planning to run the world’s biggest half marathon, The Great North Run, in the autumn.
It was at the end of 2015 [October], after a chat with one of her friends, when Emma decided to join the gym with the intention of increasing her fitness and getting healthier. Emma has been happy and proud of what she has achieved. Over the past sixteen-months with a combination of regular gym work and ‘This Girl Can’ activities, Emma has got fitter and trimmed down.
Emma added: “For me, This Girl Can has been all about making new friends, gaining renewed self-confidence, and generally feeling good about myself. I’ve seen a real difference in my fitness level; before I couldn’t run a mile and now I’m looking to improve my times and distance whenever possible. The social aspect has also played a big factor in my experience so far. The people I’ve met have been lovely and it’s like one big family.”
Cllr Jane Streather, cabinet member for public health and housing at Newcastle City Council, said: “The women of Newcastle have really embraced what ‘This Girl Can’ stands for. Last year saw hundreds of people taking part in events and classes across the city with testimonies telling us just how positive, and in some cases, life changing, this campaign has become.
“We are championing the use of parks and green spaces as places people choose to access for running, walking and other fun activities; with them being the setting for many ‘This Girl Can’ key events.
“This Girl Can encourages women to get involved in regular exercise, which can improve both their physical and mental wellbeing. We would be thrilled to see even more participants joining in this year, as this can make a real difference to so many people’s lives.”
Jennie Price, CEO of Sport England, said: “We’re proud that This Girl Can has inspired millions of women since we launched but this is just the start. Fewer women are still active than men, even though most of them would like to be more active.
“We know many women feel judged – about how they look, how good or bad they are or what other people say about how they spend their time. These worries stop women being as active as they want to be. We can’t make those feelings go away completely but by showing women of all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability being active in a way that works for them, we’re helping more women build the confidence not to care about what others think.”
Jennie Price adds: “We’re tackling some new issues this time around that reflect the things women can feel judged about, like being active in pregnancy or just after you’ve had a baby, coming back to exercise after a break, and being active as you get older. Some of our most inspiring images are of women in their sixties.”
For further information about ‘This Girl Can’ please visit the nationally supported website www.thisgirlcan.co.uk New billboards and online videos are now live, with a new TV advertisement airing on Friday 24th February.
You can also get news about your local ‘This Girl Can’ events by keeping an eye out on the Active Newcastle social media [Twitter / @activenewcastle and Face Book / @Activenewcastlepage]. Alternatively people can call 0191 278 3129 or visit www.activenewcastle.co.uk.
Alternatively check out the Newcastle City Council social media pages [Twitter / NewcastleCC and Face Book / @NewcastleCityCouncil]. Also use #thisgirlcan when talking about the campaign online.