There are a number of things that organisations can do to help create enjoyable experiences for children and young people (CYP).
Firstly it is important that CYP feel safe when participating in sport and physical activity. Regardless of your activity offer, CYP will not have an enjoyable experience if they do not feel safe. Your organisation will also need to provide an environment that safeguards CYP from harm and create an environment where they feel safe. Check out our Safeguarding Children and Young People page for more information.
- Create a culture where CYP can speak openly about their experience, any issues or challenges they may face and how your organisation can work towards addressing these. It is important that CYP know who to speak to if they have any concerns.
- Listen to the CYP at your organisation. Ensure that there are regular opportunities for CYP to have a say in the activities your organisation runs and how they are delivered. This could be as simple as having a choice of music during the session or the warm-up activities. It is important that CYP feel like they have choices, are listened to and their views are acted upon.
- Ensure that all CYP at your organisation know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour as this can have a lasting impact on the experience of others. Set standards of good practice such as through codes of conduct for CYP and parents/carers, but make sure these are communicated in a way that CYP will understand.
Steps to create an activity offer with your local community
- Find out about the demographic profile of your targeted community and the lifestyles of the CYP that you are targeting.
- Identify potential motivations and barriers to participation and use these to develop an action plan on how you will target CYP. For more information on the different motivations and barriers click here.
- Test your ideas on CYP, including those who aren’t already members of your organisation if possible, and learn from this. Your offer should be adaptable and flexible to meet the various needs of CYP.
- You may need to offer your activities in different ways to meet the needs of CYP. For example, technology is an integral part of CYP lives and they do not separate online and offline activities. Consider if you need to adapt your offer or provide opportunities both online and in person.
Maximising communication channels
- Use the communication channels that CYP use to promote the activities you offer. The use of social channels is particularly important for CYP.
- Consider if there are any local partners (schools, uniformed organisations, local charities) who already work with and can help you reach CYP.
- Use any insight you may have into the barriers and motivations of CYP in your local area to design and target any promotional activities. Promote the benefits of being part of your organisation, and match these up with the motivations of CYP.
- Promote the ways your organisation can meet the needs of children and young people as widely as possible, as reinforcing this will make your messaging more influential.
Include young people in the running of your organisation
- Involve CYP in the running and decision-making of your organisation. You may wish to set up a youth committee if you have a large youth section, or this can be done informally, but it’s a great way to ensure that CYP have a say in your organisation’s running.
- It is important to listen to what CYP say and act on it. CYP will often want to shape and have a sense of ownership over the activities that your organisation provides.
- Make sure your policies and practices can be easily explained to CYP so that they understand what is expected of them, and what mechanisms are in place to support them. Having clear and simply written versions of key documents can be one way to do this.
Consider the role of parents/carers and families
The families of CYP, particularly parents/carers, play a key role in shaping the experience of sport and physical activity. Parents/carers usually provide support which enable CYP to be active, from providing travel to paying for subs, kit or equipment. More information on how to create a family offer can be accessed here.
For more information on maximising the role of parents/carers in supporting CYP to be active, click here. This page has been developed with the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) to recognise the role that parents/carers can have in supporting and sustaining participation and safe enjoyment of sport and physical activity by CYP.