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Big Sister offers girls free access sport

Words by Smiley Team

For teenage girls, sport can sometimes be an intimidating prospect. Awkward changing room moments, period pain, and fear of looking silly - these reasons all deter girls from participating. 

Leaping to the rescue, a new programme has been launched to offer teenage girls a safe space to “reclaim the joy of sport and exercise during puberty”.

The aptly named Big Sister programme is supported by other girls who act as peer support mentors, inspiring participants to get involved with sport. 

“We are so lucky to now live in a world where there are so many options for everybody so no matter what your ability is, there will be something out there for you and Big Sister can help you discover your journey,” said 19-year-old Ellen, a Big Sister peer mentor.

It offers 9-15-year-old girls in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Norfolk a bundle of free goodies. These include a 6-month Places Leisure membership, a gym pass for 11-15-year-olds, online workouts and period products.

Girls living outside the three counties can access free online workouts via the Places Leisure Locker App and get free advice from Big Sister about how to get active in their area.

Through this incredible introduction to sport, the programme aims to educate girls about puberty while improving their self-belief and well-being.

As a mentor, Ellen will be helping to motivate participants. She said: “Puberty is tough for everyone, even girls who you presume ‘have got off lightly’ are going through their own difficulties.  

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“I wish I had the confidence to start exercising at a younger age. I only recently found the type of exercise for me, the one I enjoyed, where I got most sweaty and when I would finish my session on such a high and with a feeling of invincibility.”

Exercise has numerous benefits, preventing health issues that affect girls and women, from anxiety and self-harm during the teenage years to osteoporosis in later life.

For Ellen, this is clear. “I became confident in my ability about what I can do and stopped comparing myself to others,” she said. “I also feel better in myself, I have way more energy and feel so much more comfortable in my own skin.”

Big Sister is funded by the DCMS Tampon Tax led by Women in Sport and a consortium of partners: Places for People’s charity Places Foundation and local leisure provider Places Leisure, and Hey Girls Community Interest Company. 

Inspired to act?

GET INVOLVED: If you’re a teenage girl who loves sport, become a Big Sister to inspire girls like you.

DONATE: To support more projects like Big Sister and encourage women and girls to keep active, donate to Women in Sport.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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