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International Women's Day 2024

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was #InspireInclusion! This is something that we pride ourselves upon at VGA and St Tydfils. We not only aim to provide traditional gymnastics, but we actively deliver other opportunities for members and non members to be physically active - and to be inspired to try new things or to aim higher, e.g. young leading, coaching qualifications.

The Valleys Girls initiative is one such example. Valleys Girls provides free sessions on a weekly basis at the Crumlin base - designed and delivered by our team of peer leaders, Olivia, Orlaith, Mya and Meg (with a similar project also running in St Tydfils, Merthyr). A variety of activities have been undertaken so far this year such as bowls, rugby, skateboarding, circus skills, cookery classes, gymnastics, dance, crafts, and free running - and engagement has been fantastic, with up to 40 girls attending some sessions! It is important that the sessions reflect what the participants want, so individuals are asked on a regular basis what they have liked, disliked and what they would like to see in the future. This encourages inclusion of participants who don’t normally take part in club sessions and helps us to gain insight and new ideas - from the young people who the sessions are designed to attract! Our peer leaders have also engaged in a wide range of training and development, empowering them to deliver a wide range of activities themselves, including leadership training from Tennis Wales, arts and crafts workshops with Head4Arts and three Street Games Wales workshops - as well as Welsh Gymnastics UKCC coaching qualifications!!

Our volunteers strive to #InspireInclusion throughout the project. When asked why they volunteer, one of the volunteers told us

‘I volunteer for us girls because i get to see the young individuals enjoy themselves participating in sports just as i did. The smiles on their faces by achieving something new and developing new friendships, truly makes me happy. I believe us girls have had a big impact on their attitudes towards being active, as these young girls used to be shy and not very sociable, whereas us volunteers have witness them become more outgoing and confident, Us girls has also allowed us to connect with them and have more trust with each other.’

“Friendship” and “trying new things” were consistent themes when we asked the participants why they take part in Valleys Girls. One said ‘I love trying new things and making friends.' This has been relevant in many sessions - with several young people finding themselves surprised that they throughly enjoyed sessions which they may not have initially been attracted to!


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