Nike and UK Active publish blueprint for scaling the Open Doors kids’ holiday fitness scheme

By Frances Marcellin    16 Nov 2022

737 young people participated in this year’s Open Doors, up 37 per cent on last year / UK Active

UK Active and Nike have released an impact report for the 2022 Open Doors programme, proving it’s a scalable model that could help keep thousands of children active during school holidays.

Designed to remove the typical socioeconomic barriers to holiday activities, this year the Open Doors programme was attended by 737 children across 12 schools and sites in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. This is up 37 per cent on last year when 535 children took part in the scheme in ten city-based schools in London and Birmingham, UK.

Schools and their sports facilities are chosen as sites for the Open Doors programmes as they provide a safe, familiar and accessible environment for the children. This model forms part of UK Active’s Schools-as-community-hubs policy which transforms sports and education sites – which represent 39 per cent of all community sports facilities in England – into activity hubs for children. Without the initiative, these facilities would normally be closed during school holidays.

An Open Doors Blueprint, which offers a universal model for opening up sports facilities in every community, has been created by Nike and UK Active to support the scalable nature of the scheme.

“The feedback we have received from children and young people who joined Open Doors this summer is testament to the incredible power of this model, and the inspirational efforts of the coaches and activity providers,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active. “Supporting the physical and mental health of our youngest citizens will be vital for reducing the nation’s health inequalities and, as such, should be recognised as a key part of the government’s ambitions for levelling up.

“We must not accept holiday hunger and physical inactivity as the reality for children growing up in the UK today, so we are calling on central and local government to help realise the potential of the Open Doors model to support millions more children.”

Dan Burrows, Nike’s senior director of social and community impact, EMEA, said: “The growth of the Open Doors programme is positive news in our mission to increase access to sport and play for all.

“Open Doors helps to remove the barriers that prevent so many from staying active during the holidays and provide them with inclusive and safe spaces to play and connect with their peers. Next year we want to help even more kids to recognise and achieve their full potential through sport and play.”

The report shows that 63 per cent of participants were eligible for free school meals and that the average age was 10-years-old, with the gender split at 64.4 per cent boys and 35.6 per cent girls. In terms of demographic data, 34 per cent were white or white British; 25 per cent Asian or Asian British; 17 per cent black or black British; 7 per cent were mixed; and 15 per cent registered as other.

Figures from Sport England’s latest Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, covering the academic year for 2020-21, showed that low affluence families are least likely to be active and that only 36 per cent of black and 39 per cent of Asian children are active compared to 48 per cent of white British children. Team sports are the most popular activity of 11-16-year-olds. These come in second for 7-11-year-olds who prefer active play and informal activities.

UK Active research has also found that many children lose fitness rapidly during school holidays due to a lack of exercise.

Sport and activities for this year’s Open Doors were provided by partners such as the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, Tanzii TV, Aspire, Liverpool FC Foundation and Bloomsbury Football. Nike athlete and Iron Man competitor John McAvoy championed the programme throughout the summer. McAvoy is an inspirational role model for young people who transformed his life from convicted robber to professional athlete through the power of sport, initially by breaking world records for indoor rowing from prison on a Concept2 machine.

“It’s clear from this report that Open Doors has helped to bring fun and movement to hundreds of children and young people who otherwise could have been isolated, inactive and hungry over the summer break,” said McAvoy. “We’re so proud of the growth of this programme and I truly believe that with the support of brilliant local activity providers, schools and partners, we can grow Open Doors and help transform the lives of many more children and young people.

“With the right support, we can unlock school facilities across the UK and bring the power of sport and physical activity to young people in every community, no matter what their background or ability.”

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