General News:

International Women’s Day – Stacey Stuart


Each year, on March 8, the world marks and celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) to recognise the collective commitment to achieving gender equality.

This year’s theme is to “Inspire Inclusion” which emphasises the importance of diversity and empowerment across all aspects of society.

We spoke to one of our Active Schools Coordinators covering the Northfield Associated Schools Group (ASG) – Stacey Stuart – to hear about her role and how she enjoys trying to increase female participation in sport and physical activity. 

Reflecting on her time at school, Stacey said: “I did Higher PE at school, but I was one of only three girls in the class.

“I also did gymnastics and athletics as hobbies and completed coaching qualifications in both sports – by working as a coach, this saved me from having to pay any tuition fees in gymnastics or athletics, so it was a win, win.

“I studied sport and physical activity at the University of Strathclyde and completed an exchange year with Laurentian University in Canada.

“My first post-uni role was working as a sports assistant and lifeguard at Robert Gordon University (RGU) and whilst there, I gained my fitness instructor qualification and started teaching classes.

“I then took a gap year and went travelling to places including Vietnam, Singapore and New Zealand which was lots of fun!

“Once I returned from my travels, I worked for Barnardo’s in a children’s residential unit and started coaching for Active Schools on the side – Graeme Dale was the Active Schools Coordinator I worked for at the time.

 “My next stint saw me change direction and work in corporate fitness for a period of time, and then I worked in a few administration roles in the oil and gas industry. It was the right time to leave oil and gas when I had my first child. 

“The ‘Looked After Project’ is what I worked on next, now known as the SPACE (Supported Physical Activity for Care Experienced) programme through Sport Aberdeen. Then I went on to have my third child.

“I enjoyed working for the Looked After Project, so I ended up going back to do this and I worked at one of the vulnerable children’s hubs in Manor Park School for a year through Covid. I then got promoted to Active Schools Coordinator and my previous experience made me the one best suited to being based in the Northfield area.

“I have worked for Active Schools now for over five years and it’s great because the schools in my area really buy into it – they really believe that sport is for the greater good.”

Helping to inspire more young girls to get into sport and physical activity…

Stacey stated that participation in sport and physical activity between boys and girls at primary school age is about 50/50, but at Academy age, there is a much higher drop off in female participation.

She said: “I totally notice a shift in attitude. Primary 7 girls will be feisty and competitive and then when they join S1 you see such a drop off. I suppose when you’re younger, you are care free and then in secondary school, you’re trying to fit in and change your social circles.

“There are various ways we try to boost participation from young females at Northfield Academy and some of the ways we do this are through fitness classes and dance classes.

“We also keep gym kit in the classroom so that girls can use this and then once they are old enough, they can progress over to Get active @ Northfield and become Teen Fitness members to use the gym.

“Some of the young people we work with receive free supported memberships. 

“We’ve put on girls only sessions in the past and during exam periods, we carried out stress buster sessions and took the girls out for walks so they could reap the benefits of being out in the fresh air and exploring.

“We pretty much try to give them as many opportunities as possible and it helps that a lot of them want to get into sports coaching or studying a sport-related subject at college.

“One of the girls I supported Kerin is now at college studying sports coaching and is an Active Schools Volunteer – she is a finalist in the ‘Young Coach/Young Volunteer of the Year’ category of the Aberdeen Sports Awards 2024 so I’m wishing her loads of luck.”

Stacey’s advice…

“Don’t let any stigma around something put you off, and don’t compare yourself to others – focus on you.

“Everyone has their successes and differences at school, and not everything has to be academic-based. Learn to appreciate why you are different from someone else and allow yourself to embrace it.

“Just because you think someone else is better than you at something, doesn’t mean you can’t do that same sport or activity and enjoy it too. Everyone has a chance and you can still enjoy participating in something without having to be the best.”