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More children in Bradford will get moving as part of an innovative £100 million Sport England-scheme to tackle the problem of physical inactivity.

Projects across the north of the city will receive a share of National Lottery funding over four years to transform physical activity levels in 5 to 14-year-olds.

Born in Bradford, a research project hosted at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, led the successful bid on behalf of Active Bradford, a partnership of local providers, to become one of Sport England’s 12 Local Delivery Pilots.

Research has shown that low levels of physical activity during childhood and adolescence can lead to physical and mental health problems including diabetes, obesity and low self-esteem. It can also have a negative impact on children and young people’s academic achievement, and social and life skills.

Physical inactivity is linked to serious problems in the city:

  • Born in Bradford data has shown that 77 per cent of 5-11 year-olds don’t do the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day
  • 38 per cent leave primary school overweight or obese
  • 10 per cent fewer Bradford children leave school with 5 GCSEs A*-C grade
  • One in 10 children need support for mental health issues

The Sport England funding will improve opportunities for children and young people to take part in physical activity and sport. This will make a major contribution to improving health, mental wellbeing, individual development, community development and quality of life.

The Bradford pilot will work with communities to understand what children and young people want and need to become more active, and feel like physical activity and sport is for them. Projects will include new and innovative programmes and adaptations to community design along with more out-of-school-hours activity programmes, better lighting in parks, and safer spaces.

The Bradford pilot will test out new projects across the north of the city in Allerton, Fairweather Green, Toller, Heaton, Manningham, City, Bolton/Undercliffe, Windhill, Eccleshill, and replicate successful projects across the district.

Dr Sally Barber, Principal Research Fellow for Born in Bradford, said: “Activity levels are worryingly low and harming our children. This funding is an incredible opportunity to explore what children and young people want and need to be more active and test innovative projects. Knowing what works can drive sustainable change in physical activity levels and improve lives.”

Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, added: “It’s difficult to over-state the importance of this investment for the youngest city in the UK, where one in four residents are under 16.

Future lives

“While many of our young residents get a great start in life and we produce outstanding sportswomen and men, too many of our children are physically inactive, impairing their health and prospects for their future lives. This programme will enable us to trial new and innovative approaches to increased participation in physical activity. We can't wait to get started!”

Wayne Jacobs, Chair of Active Bradford, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be chosen as a Sport England Local Delivery Pilot. It was a real team effort to win the bid, with Active Bradford partners, senior and community leaders, and children and young people all playing their part. We hope and anticipate the learning from this project will have a very real and positive impact on the lives of children and young people growing up in our communities and beyond.”

Sport England reviewed 113 pilot bids from across the country and hopes to spread learning from the Bradford pilot to other places about what works and what doesn’t.

Active Bradford will lead the programme supported by Born in Bradford, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, the NHS, West Yorkshire Police, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, the voluntary sector, local schools and faith organisations. All will work together to develop and deliver the projects to support children and young people to be physically active.

Tracey Crouch, Minster for Sport, will welcome the news at the Local Government Association’s Sport and Physical Activity conference in London today (Tuesday, 5 December).

Powerful tool

She said: "Sport is a powerful tool that helps strengthen communities and improves physical and mental health. So it is right that we look to do all we can to encourage people to take part.

“Sport England will invest up to £100 million of funding, thanks to National Lottery players, to pilot innovative projects in 12 places to get more people from all backgrounds involved in sport and physical activity. We will look to replicate and scale up learning from the pilots across the country. I look forward to seeing these projects in action."

Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that Bradford will be working with us on this ground-breaking investment. We want to get to the heart of the issues that stop people being as active as they might like to be, and work alongside every part of the community and the groups and institutions that support this.

“This is not all about sport - we’re prepared to look at wider issues like transport, childcare, how easy it is to walk or cycle - whatever that community feels is most relevant to them.

"The process to be appointed as a pilot area for this work was incredibly competitive, and Bradford has emerged from a very strong field. I am really delighted to be working with them.”

Picture caption (from left): Kersten England, Dr Sally Barber, Wayne Jacobs, and Naz Ali from Bradford Council’s Youth Service join pupils from Ley Top and Green Lane primary schools, as well as the One in a Million Academy, to launch the Bradford pilot.