How sports organisations have involved children and young people
Here are some examples of how some sports organisations have involved young people within their settings. Not all organisations have the same level of resource or capacity, however these are just examples which could be adapted to suit your club or activities needs and requirements.
No matter which mechanism you choose to use, it's important to remember that actively listening to children and young people allows their values, views and voices to be heard. The more invested and involved young people are within your sport club or activity, the more likely they are to achieve their sporting potential and stay involved for longer.
Gathered children’s views can be done in multiple ways, such as surveys, feedback forms, youth forums and panels. This feedback can provide your sports club or activity with valuable insight into what children and young people’s needs are, what they value most and what worries or concerns they may have.
Youth forums and panels are a useful way to engage with young people, these can be organised online or face to face. A forum or panel will allow members to interact and share their thoughts and views, and provide useful feedback for your club or activity.
Below are links to resources and programmes that some sports organisations have developed:
Youth forum - example from Active Luton
How Active Luton used youth forums
Active Luton delivered online forums to consult young people about how they felt about going back to physical activity after lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the youth forums, Active Luton wanted to discover the following:
- how physically active young people are?
- what young people are interested in?
- what motivates young people?
Outcomes of involving young people
From the young people’s feedback about their concerns of returning sport after the pandemic, Active Luton introduced the following:
- they produced COVID secure participation guidance for clubs that could be used to encourage and motivate young people to return to physical activity
- ongoing youth forums, partnered with different agencies, to support young people
Feedback forms and surveys provide sports club or activity providers with a snapshot of information. They can be created and delivered quickly and for free or very low cost. It’s important to be clear what you’re asking children and young people, so having a focus for your form or survey is essential.
Feedback forms - example from Active Luton
''Listening to young people helps us to have insight on our funding decisions. If clubs come to us for funding, we are more aware of what young people would want and need.’’ - Active Luton
How Active Luton used feedback forms
They produced a feedback form to collect feedback from young people taking part in community group activities. The feedback forms included questions on:
- what their ideal sessions would look like
- how safe they feel at sessions
- barriers to children and young people taking part
- the choice of activities available
The benefits of involving young people for Active Luton
Listening to young people helped to give Active Luton an insight on their funding decisions and gave them a better awareness of what young people wanted and needed. It has helped the organisation to:
- See why some things might not be working
- share this insight with external partners (such as local authorities)
- develop new partners, especially work regarding consulting with children and young people
''Listening to children’s and young people’s voices has had a positive effect on the way we work. We all fall into doing work in the same way and might not know what change is needed. Listening to young people and children keeps us open to change.’'- Active Luton
Working in partnership with others - example from Greater Sport
Greater Sport worked with partners on a project funded by The London Marathon Charitable trust, to improve the health and wellbeing of young homeless people across Greater Manchester through access to physical activity and mentoring.
They contacted several organisations who were working with young homeless people, who would benefit from this project. Once the organisation was on board with the programme, they consulted with the young people to find out:
- what sport or activity they would like to do
- the barriers they feel there are
- how to remove these barriers to help them enjoy the project
Each consultation gave different ideas and thirst for a variety of activities. They also asked the young people which type of mentoring they would like and how to help them co-design the project to suit their needs – to increase retention and participation.
The benefits in involving young people
By taking a youth work-oriented approach Greater Sport has partnered with new organisations that they might have not partnered with otherwise. Engaging young people in co-production has led to greater retention and participation.
What Greater Sport learnt from consulting with young people
- to be open to change
- what our desired outcome is, might not be theirs
- many young people don’t want to join a team or compete in sport, they just want to make friends and enjoy or feel better
- the link between mental health and physical health comes up a lot with the young people, (for example, young people frequently shared that they are interested in yoga and mindfulness)
- young people might not want to be tied to a specific sport and might want to try different sports
To find out more, visit the Greater Manchester Moving website.
Sharing good practice
If you have any other example of good practice of involving and listening to the voices of young people to help shape your sport or physical activity offer, please share them with us.