Winner's Story: Innovation Project of the Year, Pattinson Athletics Initiative

Winner's Story: Innovation Project of the Year, Pattinson Athletics Initiative

The Innovation Project of the Year category aimed to celebrate an initiative that reaches out into the local community, breaking down barriers and engaging individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be involved in the Athletics and Running Community.

This year’s winner is outstanding: Gateshead Harriers and Gateshead International Stadium are familiar names to many in the Athletics and Running Community. Their Hall of Fame boasts names such as Johnathan Edwards, Brendan Foster, Richard Kilty and Stephen Miller, to name just a handful! A dedicated team of volunteers have strived to maximise the success of this historic club for over 40 years.

However, across the road lies the Old Ford and Nest Estates, one of the poorest areas in the UK and subject of official concern over high childhood obesity. Although living as little as 50m away from this historic stadium, many residents had never been inside. Cited reasons included not believing they were not ‘allowed’ to enter, feeling as though they couldn’t afford it, or that Athletics wasn’t for ‘people like them.’ A low participation rate from local children was a concern for the Club and so, with guidance from Sport England, they formed a partnership with Edberts House. The local community development charity had already identified young people wanting to take part in sport, and even running races timed using a Youth Worker’s iPhone!

Together, they have worked to make this partnership successful. At present, they have successfully engaged 12 young people from the local community who are now training with the local Harriers group, the Edberts House Youth Worker is gaining coaching skills, and three of the new participants have completed a local ParkRun!

And this project plans to keep expanding! Their next planned steps are to continue to grow the participation numbers, the youth worker to undertake a formal coaching qualification, and reach further into the community to engage more women and families. They are sourcing financial support to help them further reduce the barriers, which will enable them to continue their fantastic work. The benefits of this project to the local community is immeasurable, and fully deserving of this National Award.

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