The return to regular life is felt in schools perhaps more than anywhere else and while the classroom return took place last year, sporting activities are only coming back in earnest now with the new school year.
The #SeriousSupport Schools Programme, supported by Lidl and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust charity, is one of the programmes that is now part of that return to activity.
The important aim of the programme is to reduce the drop-out rate in sport participation amongst girls in their junior cert cycle through workshops and training sessions led by current or former inter-county players working as athlete mentors in secondary schools across the country.
Lidl are now seeking nominations from schools and parents across the country for their chosen secondary school to be 1 of 26 set to benefit from the programme that will begin delivery after the Halloween mid-term break.
Research previously undertaken by Lidl into how sport participation impacts the lives of women both on and off the pitch, and the factors that influence dropout rates showed that by age 13, 1 in 2 girls drop out of sport and that girls are 3 times more likely to give up sport than boys.
Yet, it was discovered that girls who continue to play team sports are 4 times more likely to feel body confident, 80 per cent are more likely to have positive mental wellbeing and 50 per cent feel more supported when compared with their peers who do not play sport.
Those are the kind of figures that cannot be ignored and which make this programme such an important one.
Each of the 26 secondary schools selected will partner with one of Lidl’s athlete mentors who will share inspiring stories of their journey through sport and how it has helped them become the people they are today.
They will introduce students to the programme values of Respect, Trust, Responsibility and Recognition, which are key to the success of the athletes themselves.
Returning athlete mentors include Lidl ambassador and Dublin footballer, Carla Rowe, Mayo legend and Great Western Sydney AFLW player, Cora Staunton and Donegal’s Eilish Ward with the full list of mentors to be revealed before the programme delivery begins.
Each selected school will receive inspirational workshops and training sessions from their mentors and they will also undertake a Ladies Gaelic Football project of their own throughout the year, applying the concepts they’ve learned through the workshops. They will also receive a new set of Lidl sponsored team jerseys for the school.
Originally piloted in 7 schools before being rolled out fully across a further 26 schools in the 2019-20 school year, the Lidl #SeriousSupport Schools Programme has delivered proven results and provides schools with the opportunity to make a considerable impact amongst their female students. A survey of students after the initial 2019 programme found that 98 per cent felt it improved their teamwork, 96 per cent said it enhanced their aspirations and 92 per cent increased their confidence as a result.
“I’m delighted that Lidl’s Serious Support Schools Programme is returning to secondary schools across the country,” said Carla Rowe.
“It has been a great experience to share my story with the students and pass on all of the lessons I have learned about ladies football and life over the years. Secondary school can be a hard time for many children and playing ladies football brought so much positivity to my school life and general confidence that I would encourage every girl to start or to continue playing for as long as they can.”
“We are delighted to be associated once again with the Lidl #SeriousSupport Schools programme,” added LGFA President Michael Naughton.
“For many of our young students, this programme can be a life-changing experience, as they gain key insights and experiences from the athlete mentors.”
“We are immensely proud of our ability to touch the lives of young people as they develop skills that will help them through adolescence and into adulthood. This is a pivotal time for young people as they are faced with numerous challenges and our athlete mentors can impart invaluable knowledge. We look forward to following the Lidl #SeriousSupport programme and watching it enrich the lives of participants.”
Nominations for the Lidl #SeriousSupport Schools Programme are now being accepted via www.lidl.ie/serioussupport until the deadline of Sunday, 10th of October.
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