25.May.11 Ilkley Harrier's Junior Volunteer Training Programme
Over the last few years several of Ilkley Harriers' older juniors (aged 14 to 18 years) have helped out at the athletics sessions that are organised each week. All the junior helpers have gone through the Junior Ilkley Harrier system themselves and are familiar with the activities that the club do and the format of the coaching sessions that are run. Their knowledge and input has been invaluable to our coaching programme.
At the end of 2010 the club decided that to give all these junior volunteers the opportunity to gain a 'real' qualification that would not only be useful on a CV but also provide the general leadership skills for everyday life. The leadership awards that the volunteers are following will run over a period of years which will not only give the club a constant supply of volunteer help but also provide a good deal of continuity within the club's coaching programme.
At the beginning of 2011 having spoken to England Athletics local Club and Coach Support Officer Lucy Birkenshaw about the idea and gained an innovations grant of £300 from England Athletics, Ilkley Harriers (part of the Bradford McCain Athletics Network) embarked on the project.
Three coaches who have been involved with the junior section since it started in 2002 are involved with the volunteer programme (Ros Blackburn, Alison Eagle and Shirley Wood). Alison Eagle through her role as Rural development worker, Keighley & Ilkley voluntary and Community Action recruited Katherine Robertshaw to the team. Katherine is not involved with Ilkley Harriers but is a tutor of leadership courses and will oversee and lead various course elements. See www.firststepsportsawards.co.uk
Shirley Wood told England Athletics how the club went about the process: "The plan has been to start all fourteen of our junior volunteers on the course elements for the Level 2 Award in Sports Leadership and then through a bridging course those who wish to will have the opportunity to progress on to the Level 2 Award in Community Sports Leadership when they are 16 years old." Both qualifications share a number of common units so a bridging course allows the individual to continue to expand their knowledge and potential as a leader without having to repeat units already covered - details of this nationally recognised award can be found on www.sportsleadership.org
Shirley continues, "Currently we are 3 months into the Sports Leadership course and all the juniors have completed some of the course units and have been gaining volunteering hours at weekly athletics sessions or races that we organise. Alongside qualified coaches all the juniors have had the opportunity to coach certain elements and are gaining both in confidence and experience.
The course is as practical as possible and the elements of developing leadership skills, planning, leading and evaluating, promoting a healthy lifestyle, role models in sport, organisational skills plus others will be covered. Even in such a short time we have found that our juniors, because of the structured approach to volunteering are much more focused on what they are doing."
Part of the practical work is assessed and it is planned that the juniors will lead the athletics activity at the Year 6 sports transition day at Ilkley Grammar School at the end of this term. At the transition day all the Year 6's from local primary schools who will be transferring to the school in the autumn are brought together for a day of sport.
Lucy Birkenshaw summarised, "This is an excellent example of how a club is engaging the young volunteers and helping them gain new qualifications. This project will be showcased as an example of good practice within the athletics networks. The coaches are doing a fantastic job!"
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CE Electric UK – the company that owns and operates the electricity distribution networks in Yorkshire, northern Lincolnshire and the North-east - is proud to support England Athletics through its corporate sponsorship programme.
John Barnett, Head of Customer Operations, said: “There’s nothing more important to us than giving something back to the communities that we serve. The England Athletics programme gives young people the chance to keep fit and have fun, whilst offering some of the region’s most promising young athletes the best possible start in their sporting careers.”
You can visit CE Electric UK’s England Athletics micro-site, which includes interviews with some of the region’s young athletes, training plans and a body mass index (BMI) calculator, by visiting http://athletics.ce-electricuk.com/page/index.cfm
CE Electric UK also uses the England Athletics programme to promote its life-saving electrical safety campaign “Stay Away: Stay Alive”, which teaches children and young people to recognise danger of death signs and electrical hazards. You can access electrical safety-themed games and activities by following the “Fusebox” and “Crucial Crew” links on the front page of the company’s website www.ce-electricuk.com