Let’s think about what we hope to see the Commonwealth Games deliver and leave behind for Glasgow and indeed Scotland.
Everyone feeling excited, engaged and empowered to get more active.
However, as a physical activity champion, it seems appropriate that I focus on how the Commonwealth Games present a fantastic opportunity to excite, enthuse and encourage more to get active, to try and take up sports and to leave a legacy for our next generations. It is an opportunity to address some of the damning statistics that blight our city and our nation.
So, how can Glasgow 2014 reverse years of declining health statistics and affect behavioural change in our population? I have argued, in my role as a Lay Adviser to the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, that a wide and varied approach is required. That we need to ensure that physical activity is available to all and viewed as part of our daily lives. With the latest reports showing that over 96% of primary schools are now meeting the recommended target of 2 hours of physical activity each week, there is hope that our next generations can be our most active. We then only need to look at some of the other plans that are in place to get Glasgow and Scotland more active to see that there is a genuine and strategic plan to get more of us moving.
I am an Ambassador for the Scottish Government’s Fit In 14 campaign, which is aimed at Scottish businesses to encourage their staff to take small, simple steps towards a more active lifestyle which will have a positive impact on their mental and physical health and well-being. Sedentary behaviour is a leading contributor to several life limiting conditions and with many of us spending considerable time at our desks, workplace initiatives can be highly effective and fun. Yesterday marked the end of my latest workplace walking challenge that attracted nearly 300 participants. By 2016, it is hoped that, across Scotland, we will have at least 150 Community Sports Hubs, where local communities can gather to take part in new activities. These will hopefully bring local communities together and provide more support to grass route sports, activities and the volunteers that deliver them. Having looked at the current Hubs in Glasgow I have concerns that they are mainly located in Glasgow’s leafier suburbs. I would hope that many more will be rolled out across the city to ensure that physical activity is available to all. Community led initiatives are also at the heart of the Big 2014 Communities Programme and Active Places Fund with £10 million set aside to fund local programmes to get more people, more active. Later this year I’ll be launching one such scheme, to get more people running. Running is a major part of my life and it is a fun and challenging way to get fit and achieve personal goals. These programmes, when combined with the momentum of the actual Games, have the potential to make a positive impact on our perceptions of sport and physical activity. To make them more accessible, inclusive and fun. To make them part of our active lives again. To take us from spectators to participants. The key is public engagement. People make Glasgow and for all of the above to succeed, it will require the people of Glasgow and Scotland buying into the programmes, being excited by the opportunities and retaining an interest long after the athletes and officials have moved on to start their preparations for the World Championships and Rio 2016. With one month to go, what are you doing to ensure that your community benefits from the legacy of the Games?