Using sport to positively impact the lives of looked after and cared for children in Aberdeen
Funding has been officially extended to allow for an award-winning initiative to continue to provide opportunities for care experienced and looked after children in the Granite City.
SPACE (Supported Physical Activity for Care Experienced) is an innovative project delivered by registered charity Sport Aberdeen, which uses the positive benefits of sport and physical activity to help care experienced children and young people reach their full potential through bespoke interventions.
The project was the first of its kind in Scotland and is the evolution of the ‘Looked After Project’ which began in August 2016 in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, supporting children to get active while improving their confidence and physical and mental wellbeing. Aberdeen City Council is currently corporate parent to 520 children and young people.
Working together, Sport Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council’s Integrated Children’s and Family Services aim to provide support for participants to achieve positive destinations utilising sport as a catalyst for positive change.
Following a four-year investment in the initiative, Aberdeen City Council have extended the agreement for a further year which will allow for two project activators to continue to support participants.
Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen Head of Sport and Active Communities, said: “I am extremely proud of the positive changes that the project has introduced over the last four years and with the funding extension we can reach even more young people throughout the city and improve physical and mental wellbeing through sport and physical activity. The impact that the programme has on the lives of our participants is fantastic, we have seen dramatic changes in the lives of our cared for young people.
“This is a really exciting time for SPACE as we announce the official rebrand, which was heavily influenced by the participants, ensuring that we have young people at the very heart of what we do. The rebrand also represents the expansion of the programme with it linking more closely with the Active Schools programme to increase capacity. The extension of funding is testament to the hard work of the project activators out in the community and all staff that have been involved behind the scenes.
“As a corporate parent Sport Aberdeen has the power to positively impact the lives of young people within the care of Aberdeen City Council, and through partnership working it is my hope that this initiative will continue to thrive.”
One young person enjoyed a walking group, set up in response to the pandemic, so much that he is starting to lead sessions, plan routes and has expressed interest in ‘helping the local community access this activity to combat loneliness’. This same young person was referred to the project to build relationships and social skills, which he now talks positively about. “[He is] excited to return to school for the social aspect. He walks with confidence and is now wearing designer clothes. His PE teacher has also commented on his improved fitness.” – Foster Parent
Another young person added: “This opportunity has been great for me and I am so thankful for the experience.”
Larissa Gordon, Virtual School Head Teacher, added: “Sport Aberdeen is a great example of a Corporate Parent and constantly look to do more to support our care experienced young people. During the pandemic they have adapted to ensure that they can continue to offer support where it is needed most within our community. This has had a huge impact and the SPACE programme has been vital in supporting the mental and physical health of some of our most at-risk young people during this period.”
The project was recently named winner at the ukactive Awards 2021, a UK wide awards ceremony celebrating the active lifestyle sector.