Thursday, 24 April 2014

The importance of sport

Last week I visited RedYouth, a really successful dance group which has gone from strength to strength in recent years. The current trend for talent shows on TV has inspired a number of such groups to set up, including the ‘TR14-ers’ in Camborne but RedYouth actually has its origins in the negative public perceptions about Redruth caused by the media portrayal of the pilot "curfew" project about 5 or 6 years ago. A group of volunteers came together to create a community group that could promote the talents of young people in the town.

Today, the group engages over 400 children and young people ranging from under the age of five to teenagers and even some family groups to get parents involved as well. Their activities have also moved beyond just dance and during the summer they run other activities and visits, promoting interests and hobbies as diverse as cooking, photography and jewellery making as well as community days at the beach. RedYouth also offers days to introduce children and young people to a range of alternative sports. The group employs Jen, a trained instructor, but it is then supported by a number of truly dedicated volunteers who liaise closely with schools in the area. They are also supported by a qualified SEN assistant, which ensures that no child is left out or feels excluded.

The development of groups like RedYouth has been really positive. Meeting the young people involved last week it was clear that many had developed self confidence from their involvement in the group and had also made new friends. With debate this week about sport in schools, it is also important to remember the role of alternatives like dance to conventional sports. Sport has an incredibly important role in developing confidence in young people and establishing a healthy lifestyle with exercise from a young age. However, competitive sport is not for everyone. In particular, too many teenage girls drift away from sport later in school, but dance groups like RedYouth can provide a really inspiring alternative.

RedYouth is just one of the many great sports clubs and community groups that offer opportunities to young people. I will never forget the support that I had from volunteers at Cornwall Athletic Club when I was growing up, and I fought hard to make sure the new running track will be located in the CPR area because in doing so it offers the most to all of our community athletics groups. Above all it is volunteers today who keep all of our sports clubs going from rugby and football to cricket, swimming and dance.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.