Sport Aberdeen – alongside partners Rock Up and Ride, Sustrans, Nestrans & Robert Gordon’s College – recently held a cycle safety event for New Scots living in Aberdeen.

The event took place on Tuesday 12March, where 27 New Scots benefitted from the sessions.

The cycle trainers on the day were from Sport Aberdeen’s Rock Up & Ride Project and Sustrans’ Bike Project, along with Bob Tayler – Head of Outdoor Education at Robert Gordon’s College and Tim Bowden – Sustrans’ Bike Communities Officer for Aberdeen.

The work was delivered in partnership with Asylum & Refugee Care, as it was identified that many New Scots have attempted to cycle since arriving in Aberdeen with little or no knowledge of the Highway Code and how to keep themselves and others safe. 

Despite the language barriers, the basic cycle safety sessions covered the importance of riding in a controlled manner, having good observation skills, positioning on the road, how to signal, and who has priority.

Attendees were also informed that cycling on the pavement in the UK is not permitted and that care should be taken to respect pedestrians when passing.

Laura Benson, Project Activator for Cycling at Sport Aberdeen, said: “Many of the New Scots are keen to explore the city by bike and they welcomed the safety advice provided. 

“It is intended that further cycle safety sessions for New Scots located elsewhere in the city will be provided.  

“Our Community Sport team at Sport Aberdeen will continue to work with New Scots to create more opportunities to participate in sport and physical activity, including Rock Up & Ride led rides, football and fitness sessions.

“We’d like to thank the cycling trainers Tim Bowden, Sustrans’ Bike Communities Officer for Aberdeen and Bob Tayler, Head of Outdoor Education at Robert Gordon’s College, for dedicating their time to deliver the session.”

Jayne Smith from Asylum Refugee Care said: “There was a really good attendance at the session.

“It was great to see so much enthusiasm from the New Scots to learn about how they could keep themselves safe on a bicycle.

“Personally, I am relieved this event has been held as it gives me greater confidence in those individuals’ knowledge of cycling safely in Scotland.”

Bob Tayler, Head of Outdoor Education at Robert Gordon’s College, said: “Sport Aberdeen’s dedication to organising these cycling sessions for New Scots in Aberdeen underscores the collaborative effort needed to ensure everyone can enjoy the city safely. 

“Cycling is not only great fun and exercise, it’s an effective and free method of transport. Working alongside Sport Aberdeen and other partners to promote essential cycling skills was a fantastic opportunity. Through these efforts, we enhance safety and create a sense of belonging and empowerment among New Scots as they navigate their new surroundings.”

We were delighted to receive a generous donation of £1,500 from housebuilder, Cala Homes.

The donation will enable Sport Aberdeen to deliver 18 hours of specialist exercise referral classes – part of its wider Active Lifestyles Referral Programme – at Get active @ Westburn.

Endorsed by NHS Grampian and delivered by qualified exercise referral instructors, the classes offer community based self-management and rehabilitation opportunities for people living with a range of long-term health conditions.

Graeme Dale, Director of Sport and Active Communities, said: “We are very grateful to Cala Homes for its kind donation.

“Our Active Lifestyles Referral programme is aimed at supporting participants to exercise safely and experience the benefits of being active to help manage their condition and overall health.

“It is great to now be able to offer these classes to more people thanks to the contribution from Cala Homes.

Emma Gelati, Marketing Manager at Cala Homes (North), said: “Supporting the local communities in which we build is very important to us. Therefore, we were more than happy to help support the team at Sport Aberdeen to help fund some of its specialist exercise referral classes as part of our Cala Community Pledge.

“Our Community Pledge involves us creating bespoke programmes of community activity for each of our developments. Each development’s activity looks to address specific community needs including donations, volunteering, learning programmes, support initiatives and much more.

“Sport Aberdeen is located close to both our TwentyFour, Rosemount and 22 King’s Gate developments.

“We hope our donation will be a huge benefit to those with long-term health conditions who are offered the classes.”

Sport Aberdeen was delighted to recently receive £36,000 of funding from the Carers Strategy Implementation Group via the Aberdeen Health & Social Care Partnership. 

The funding went towards recruiting a full-time project activator at the beginning of March to kickstart the programme, where the charity’s Active Schools team will be working closely alongside Barnando’s to deliver the sessions.

The need for the sessions was identified through the Carers Strategy Implementation Group (CSIG) at Aberdeen City Council – this group is lead by ACHSCP.

The project will look to emulate the popular and successful SPACE (Supported Physical Activity for Care Experienced) programme already run by Active Schools, which aims to improve the lives of local care experienced children and young people through sport and physical activity.

The Young Carer’s Initiative will instead target young carers by offering extracurricular sessions in Woodside, Westpark, and other local schools.

By definition, a young carer is under 18 years old and helps to look after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem. A young carer could be looking after a parent or a sibling.

The new sessions will allow young carers to enjoy participating in sport and physical activity, either in a one-to-one setting or small group environment. Young carers will be able to choose the activities they participate in.

Katrina Carr, Lead Active Schools Coordinator said: “It is very exciting to launch our programme to support young carers in Aberdeen thanks to extensive partnership working with Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) and Barnardo’s.

“The programme will adopt a child-centred approach, ensuring that the young people are the voice of the support they receive and can choose the activities they wish to participate in.

“This new project adds to the work that our Active Schools team has already established with young carers across the city. It will be great to see the positive impact that providing opportunities through sport and physical activity will have on the young people’s wellbeing.”

Sport Aberdeen’s Active Schools team has started a trial project where Primary School pupils are chosen as sports captains to help as many of their fellow pupils to get active as possible.

The project, which is based in both the Northfield and Hazlehead Associated School Groups (ASGs), has seen several pupils from each Primary selected for the trial.

Active Schools Coordinators worked with the selected children at an event on Monday 11th March to discuss ideas, make new friends, learn new skills and inspire them to engage their schools in sport and physical activity.

A number of the children involved already take part in similar extracurricular activities including representing pupils voices, organising notice boards for clubs/events, supporting activities for younger pupils, promoting events at assemblies, providing reminders for new sports clubs, encouraging participation and celebrating successes.

Going forward, Active School Co-ordinators hope to work closely with the sports captains to enable them to become “in school” representatives. In doing so, the pupils involved will gain a lot of valuable experience before hopefully going on to become Young Leaders or Youth Ambassadors when they reach Academy stage.

Stacey Stuart, Active Schools Co-ordinator for Northfield ASG who helped organise the project, said: “It was amazing to see how passionate and motivated our Primary sports captains were at our combined ASG event.

“The ideas and discussions they had were really encouraging and we are really looking forward to working with them both as a group and individually in their schools as they develop their roles. They all did themselves and their schools proud!”

Sport Aberdeen is delighted to announce our Community Sport Team recently received £10,520 of funding following a successful application to The National Lottery Community Fund in Scotland – made possible by National Lottery players.

The funding will be used to deliver health and fitness programmes under a one-year pilot to support both the physical health and mental wellbeing of New Scots living in Aberdeen.

At present, Sport Aberdeen has developed various projects to support New Scots including football, cricket and basketball sessions – and this pioneering “New Scots Physical Activity Activation” project will form part of the wider work.

The work to date had helped to break down barriers to participation in sport and physical activity including cost and transport.

As part of the New Scots Physical Activity Activation project, health and fitness instructors will deliver entry level fitness programmes ranging from circuit sessions and boxercise, to Pilates and yoga.

Above: New Scots ‘Football for All’ project delivered by Sport Aberdeen’s Community Sport Team

Mark Pain, Community Sport Manager at Sport Aberdeen said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Lottery to deliver programmes which will improve both the mental and physical health of those with significant need across Aberdeen City.

“The work we’ve been doing so far as a team has had an incredibly positive impact on New Scots, helping them to integrate within the local community and we look forward to developing and expanding on this further throughout our new project.

Group Health & Fitness Manager at Sport Aberdeen, Evelyn Mair said: “I am delighted to be able to work with this community and bring fun through fitness, inspire and educate, whilst improving physical and mental health to New Scots across Aberdeen.”

The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still said: “Every day National Lottery funding is changing the lives of thousands of people in communities across Scotland for the better. This project delivered by Sport Aberdeen, is a great example of community activity in action, showing just what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause or to help others. “National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is helping to support this vital work which is making a real difference to so many.”

Sport Aberdeen and local Bridge of Don Amateur Swim Club (BODASC) have forged a longstanding partnership built on mutual support and shared goals.

The charity’s vital contribution to BODASC’s entry squad ensures that incoming swimmers arrive consistently and well-equipped to learn. The collaboration extends to events including the Club Ready Competition, aimed at enhancing the swimmer experience and creating seamless transitions into the club.

The Club Ready Competition is one of the numerous benefits from the established partnership between Sport Aberdeen and BODASC. By creating a smoother transition for swimmers, the competition has led to increased club membership and improved transparency in the enrolment process.

It also serves as a valuable opportunity for swimmers and parents to meet club coaches, providing an insight into BODASC’s culture and kickstarting relationships crucial for the future of the club and the sport.

The Club Ready Competition was developed to streamline the transition process from Learn to Swim to club participation. By creating a welcoming environment where possible swimmers and their families can interact with current members, the competition helps to create a sense of unity within the swimming community.

Through planning and coordination between BODASC, Sport Aberdeen and a dedicated team of volunteers, the latest event ran smoothly, with over 45 swimmers participating. Some swimmers chose to sign up immediately with others continuing their lessons with Sport Aberdeen, allowing them to further develop their skills before deciding whether to join a club.

The presence of participation certificates, which included swimmers’ personal times, reinforced the inclusive spirit of the event, celebrating every swimmer’s efforts and achievements.

Looking ahead, BODASC’s vision involves a continued focus on nurturing its partnership with Sport Aberdeen with open communication channels and proactively identifying opportunities for further collaboration. Moreover, the club plans to expand its efforts by organising additional Club Ready meets.

These events not only streamline the personal transition process for swimmers but also serve as pivotal moments for integrating new members into the BODASC club vibrant culture.

Along with BODASC, Sport Aberdeen supports and works alongside various other swimming clubs across the city. These partnerships ensure that collectively, Sport Aberdeen and the swimming clubs can create an environment where every swimmer can thrive and reach their full potential.

To find out more about Sport Aberdeen’s Learn to Swim programme, click HERE

The 18-year-old, who is currently a leisure attendant at Linx Ice Arena, will be taking part in two different events in the coming months to raise money and awareness for Cancer Research.

Samantha sadly lost her Grandma recently who passed away with mesothelioma, a lung cancer which is caused by asbestos.

Her passion for the cause is the driving force for her efforts: “For me, I have such a personal motivation to raise awareness of the disease and to raise funding for Cancer Research.

“Being so passionate and caring is a large part of why I’m doing it. I also don’t want to see other people have to go through what we have had to as a family.”

The first event Samantha has signed up for is the MacMillan 100 push ups a day in April challenge. The second is the Cancer UK Race for Life on 30th June where Samantha will be taking part in the 10km run.

Speaking of the challenges, Samantha has no fear going into them: “I’ll be throwing myself into the deep end when it comes to the push up challenge. My plan is to do sets of 25 spread out over the day to make the challenge a bit more manageable.

“With the Race for Life event, I used to enjoy doing 5k runs a few times a week, so I am aiming to train to try and get my 10k time down.”

Samantha’s family have been there every step of the way: “My friends and family have been so supportive of everything. It was actually my mum who sent me the link to sign up for the Race for Life! They have been amazing.”

Speaking about a target of raising money, Samantha hasn’t set her sights on a particular amount, she is just keen to raise as much as possible: “I haven’t set a certain amount as to how much I want to raise.

“Every little helps when it comes to such a great cause. I would just ask for people to donate however much they can, every penny can make a difference.”

“I love my fitness and helping others. Having the opportunity to put those two things together to try to make a difference is an amazing opportunity. If I can help Cancer Research and make the fundraising more widely known, then I will feel happy.”

Since last speaking to Sport Aberdeen leisure attendant Liam Howe, he has competed in three fights at Rox Hotel in Aberdeen in May and November of 2023 respectively and won them all.

Most recently in January this year, the young prospect competed at the Scottish Development Championships at the Raven’s Craig Centre in Motherwell and went one step further than last year and won! Having won the same event in 2022, the latest victory makes him a two-time Scottish champion.

Liam who is usually based at Get active @ Alex Collie or Get active @ Jesmond is now training for his next competition – The National Open Elite Championships, more commonly known as the Golden Gloves. The event takes place over three weekends with the final being held on Saturday 13th April should he progress.

Speaking about the training going into the event, Liam believes that maintaining high standards will be the key to success: “I fight at 60kg so to make the weight I need to be 60 on the dot or below and can’t be any heavier”

“For the first time since I began boxing, I got a nutritionist involved at the beginning of December 2023. My nutritionist also helps me with meal preparations and macros.

“My nutritionist sends me meal plans which consists of high protein low carb diets but enough carbs to get me through my training but I need to stay in a calorie deficit throughout so I’m burning more than I eat every day. On top of that train in sweatsuits to lose water weight in the lead up to fights

“I would usually give myself one month to cut the weight, but this can be incredibly tight. However, this time I have given myself double the time to get to the weight I need to be. Reducing the weight more gradually over time has definitely been a better way of cutting.”

The final preparations for an upcoming fight can really take its toll and Liam believes that this is the most difficult time: “I always find the final push towards the fight the most difficult. When it gets to 3-4 days before the fight, I am only eating 300 calories per day.

“I’ll have a diet of liquid egg whites for dinners, shredded lettuce plus a little bit of sauce so it’s not as bland. Black coffee is my go-to in the morning with a splash of milk.

“I tend to take the week off work before a fight as I can get a bit moody!”

The training schedule for Liam is incredibly intense: “I’ll train at Byron Boxing Club either three or four times a week for 2-hour sessions. We spar three nights a week and at weekends we do circuits.

“There are 5 or 6 coaches there per session, and there’s maybe about 15 actual boxers. There are also a few kids and “keep fitters” who are there for fun, training and skipping or hitting the punchbags.

“I use Get active @ Alex Collie or Get active @ Jesmond on the days I’m not at Byron. At a minimum, I get one rest day a week. Sometimes I’ll do double sessions, gym and then Byron at night. I always want to push my fitness to the next level.

“I will do sprints on the treadmill or up a hill trying to emulate a fight by doing intervals of 3 mins of sprinting with one minute to rest. I’ll do this 3 times to try and mimic the duration and structure of a bout.

“I also do weight training once or twice a week mixed in with body weight exercises. It keeps me strong and keeps muscle on as I’m losing weight and on a tight calorie intake.

“You really have to be disciplined in turning up to do the work but once you actually get going it’s fine, I just do it. Even if I’m hungry, I queue a schedule of songs I want and that gets me motivated.

“Despite it being quite repetitive for training, I just have to think to myself “I need to do this” and don’t want to give any edge to the opposing side. I’ll get the work done no matter how I feel.”

“The little things really do matter, it’s the unseen stuff that matters most. It’s all about the journey to getting where I want to be.”

When he does get a break from training, Liam tries to make the most of it: “I make a list of things I can eat. Chocolate, bakery items and takeaways – usually Chinese or Dominos. I definitely overindulge for a few weeks and then get back to normal eating. It’s nice to get back to a bit of normality after cutting so much weight.

Liam has a home show to look forward to in May at Pittodrie Stadium in one of the lounges!

If you feel inspired and motivated by Liam’s story, then why not sign up for a Fitness membership here. You can get a free fitness consultation to support with your goals too!

Active Girls Day is an annual initiative that celebrates the amazing work going into girls’ sport the progress around their participation, and acknowledging the incredible role models making it all happen.

Historically it was celebrated on a single day, but Active Schools has decided to extend the celebrations for the whole month of March.  

It is so important for everyone to get involved in sport and physical activity, but some groups face unique challenges and barriers to participation. For girls specifically, some of these barriers include their experiences in PE, struggles with self-esteem and body confidence, and wider issues such as access to facilities and the lack of visible female role models in sport.

Despite progress in breaking down these barriers, there is still a noticeable gap between female and male participation rates, especially during the teenage years. There is some incredible work happening across Active Schools in Aberdeen in attempt to bridge this gap to make sport and physical activity more inclusive for everyone.

Active Girls Day is all about raising awareness of this work and celebrating the positive impact made!

‘Confidance’ Programme

A new ‘Confidance’ programme has been launched by Active Schools Aberdeen in Abbotswell Road School and Greyhope School, building girls’ confidence through dance. With participants from P6 and P7, this exciting initiative aims to empower young minds while promoting physical activity and mental well-being.

At its core, the programme seeks to act as a vehicle of change for young people. By engaging in dance, participants not only enhance their physical well-being but also cultivate self-esteem and confidence.

Sarah Masterson, Active Schools Assistant and Programme Organiser at Sport Aberdeen, said: “I am excited to share my lifelong passion for dance with young people in schools! Dance is such a powerful expression of self, together with physical intensity, that really allows us to explore and process what it means to be human. I hope that my work helps to develop self-belief and confidence in future generations.”

Each week, Sarah gathers with the girls in the programme to discuss various aspects surrounding confidence such as how to build self -belief and what it means to be authentic. Sarah then links the music track choice and choreography to that discussion to consolidate and implement the chosen topic.

One of the standout features of the ‘Confidance’ programme is its emphasis on connection. Participants are encouraged to connect with themselves, their coach, fellow participants and the music. This holistic approach creates a supportive environment where girls feel both challenged and encouraged to express themselves freely.

These sessions have been running successfully in 45–60-minute blocks for the past three weeks. The duration strikes a balance between engagement and accessibility.

The ‘Confidance’ programme is not solely about dance; it is about fostering confidence, connection, and empowerment. As participants continue to explore the world of movement and expression, they are equipped with valuable tools to navigate the challenges of growing up with confidence and resilience.

Young Ambassadors at St Machar Academy

Young Ambassadors at St Machar Academy – Alesha and Ebony – are having an incredible impact on their peers by getting them excited about sport and physical activity.

With the guidance of Active Schools Co-ordinator James Sadio and PE teacher Mr. Derek Kasslestrand, Alesha and Ebony have been brainstorming ideas to promote sport and physical activity within their school and the wider community. Their brainstorming sessions have led to some fantastic initiatives including the lunchtime volleyball club exclusively for female pupils. What started with only a few participants has grown into a thriving club, with 20-25 girls showing up each week.

Ebony recently suggested starting a sports club for P6-P7 students for all schools across the Hazelhead ASG (associated school group which she will coach it herself – a brilliant opportunity to see her confidence and leadership skills grow and shine through.

Every six weeks, Alesha, Ebony, James and Mr. Kasslestrand come together to brainstorm strategies for promoting sports participation and enhancing the overall Active Schools experience. This led to Alesha’s brilliant idea of creating a notice board to celebrate student sporting achievements. Because at Active Schools, every success is worth celebrating!

So, here’s to Alesha, Ebony, and all the Young Ambassadors making a real difference in their schools and communities. With their passion and dedication, the future of sports at St Machar Academy is brighter than ever!

With Sport Aberdeen celebrating Active Girls Day for the entire month of March, it is a perfect time to highlight the remarkable efforts of programmes like ‘Confidance’ and the dedication of young ambassadors like Alesha and Ebony. Together, we’ll continue to dismantle barriers and nurture confidence in girls’ sports and physical activity.

Sport Aberdeen’s Active Schools team was delighted to receive funding of £3037 in November after a successful application to the Aberdeen City Health Improvement fund to deliver its ‘Stay, Play & Connect’ programme.

The programme offers sessions across the city to help young people with neurological conditions, hearing or visual impairments to be more physically active by creating an inclusive and non-judgemental environment.

So far, 65 young people have attended throughout February across 10 different sessions, with 41 of these being first time participants.

The sessions have taken place at 8 different venues and pupils from 22 different schools have taken part from all stages of primary school, as well as some S1, S2 and S5 pupils.

Each session is delivered in a relaxed environment offering exploration through play in style with equipment set up to allow all participants to engage with it as and when they choose to do so.

More sport-specific activities are also offered including basketball and tennis and sensory and play equipment.

The sessions are for the whole family to attend so that parents and carers have the opportunity to socialise with other parents and create a community they feel a part of. Siblings can also attend, eliminating any issues around childcare. 

One participant who attended said: “I would just like to say how much we have enjoyed the sessions and hope they continue to run moving forward, as there are limited classes for children with ASN across the City.”

Another person who goes to the sessions added: “We have attended many of the sessions across Aberdeen city and the staff have been absolutely brilliant with my son who has ADHD. He can be very rough and hyper! There is no judgement and they know exactly how to speak to him and guide him when he’s doing something he shouldn’t.”

A parent of one of the children who attends said: “I loved the relaxed sessions and my son enjoyed the activities also. I felt at ease knowing that my child could be himself and no-one would stare. And the icing on the cake you can bring siblings!” 

Another parent said: “I am really pleased we found these sessions; my child is much happier and calmer on days we’ve attended and he looks forward to the sessions. He has taken a shine to Scott and Jamie and looks forward to seeing them each week!”