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Thursday, 28 May 2015

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Giving you support – with sport

Rebecca Jackson: ‘People now have to make a conscious effort to be fit and healthy’

THE role of a sports development officer is key within communities when it comes to establishing new sports and fitness services while expanding existing ones.

Allerdale Borough Council’s sports development officer, Rebecca Jackson, has the task of doing just that. Her aim is to improve access to sport and physical activity while at the same time developing more public interest in these areas.

Her role is wide-ranging, from organising sporting-related projects to providing information and training for both the competitive and leisure user in all sections of society.

Rebecca is able to move towards increasing levels of participation in sport and physical activity from working in partnership with a wide range of organisations to use local resources and build on regional and national initiatives.

On a local level she supports clubs and societies in finding funding for anything from new equipment to extra resources for more games or classes.

Through the council, initiatives are available to access training and qualifications with the more in-depth options, such as Coach Education Courses, to the more generic certificates in First Aid or from the Criminal Records Bureau.

“The Coach Education Course is a perfect example of how we can offer training and development for people either already working sport and are looking to develop their skills, or those who want to get into the industry and are looking for new qualifications whilst gaining experience,” said Rebecca.

“Coach Education Courses are available for anyone aged 16 and above. They provide a chance to gain coaching qualifications at different levels in a range of sports, from rugby to hockey and basketball.

“We also work in partnership with Copeland Borough Council to provide the coaching courses and it’s proving a very popular choice with people in the area.”

Last summer Rebecca helped to run sessions aimed at getting more women involved with football and cricket; this year she hopes to do the same with netball. Her work has also enabled two senior basketball teams to become established.

The community sports activities which have been developed are aimed at a wide age range, with the park scheme run during the summer holidays for children and young people, Allerdale youth teams for teenagers, and initiatives for adults such as the up-coming Back to Netball league and Adults and Disabilities sessions.

“We are involved in a Cycling for Health scheme and are currently working on a five-hour extended activities plan for the area so that all five- to 19-year-olds can access three hours of physical activity outside of their school PE sessions,” Rebecca continued.

“Our work and involvement is right across the board, and that is key when it comes to getting as many people involved in sport and activities as possible.

“In a world that is full of unhealthy opportunities, people now have to make a conscious effort to be fit and healthy.

“Although life expectancy is longer now than it was years ago, we still have problems of obesity, heart disease, alcohol and substance abuse.

“We can’t tackle all of these issues directly from getting out and getting active but hopefully, with all the different initiatives that are coming forward, we can make it easier for people to make a better choice which they can enjoy, whether it’s participating in a sporting activity or being involved in a leisurely walking group.”


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