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Young Ambassador competition inspires youngsters to get active

More than 1,200 young people across the county borough laced up their trainers last month to take part in a ‘mile a day’ challenge organised by Bridgend’s Young Ambassadors.

The Young Ambassadors programme sees secondary school pupils working with Bridgend County Borough Council’s Active Young People's department to promote sport and physical activity to support their health and wellbeing.

To encourage children to get out and about at a time when lockdown restrictions were still in place, the Young Ambassadors chose to set the Mile a Day in March challenge.

Young people aged 3 to 18 were challenged to walk or run a mile every day and more than 1,200 signed up across the county borough.

Participants recorded their miles using free apps and were all entered into a prize draw with the chance to win an Apple watch or a bike. The overall winners were Phoebe Liana Jones, Tomos Norbury, Dan Grandl and Alexander Hodge , and all participants received a certificate.

Eight Young Ambassadors oversaw the whole process, setting up a website and social media channels, and even managed to secure generous sponsorship from local design and print business KKSolutions.

Managing Director Ian Jessopp said: “I was very impressed with the pitch from the Young Ambassadors and really happy to support such a good initiative encouraging so many young people in Bridgend County Borough to improve their health and wellbeing.”

Shannie Bowen, who is in her third year of being a Young Ambassador and played a key role in organising the challenge, said: “We decided on this challenge to help promote good physical and mental health in young people who have been affected by the pandemic in many ways.

“We noticed that physical activity levels had dropped during the pandemic and felt it was important to encourage people to feel the benefits of getting outside and enjoying some fresh air.

“As an ambassador leading on the challenge I didn’t expect the engagement to be as high as it was. We all understood that parents were working and home-schooling so getting out would be a challenged but we’re really pleased with the commitment shown from every single person.

“It’s also been great to see the positive impact it had on those taking part, especially with parents and families joining in to support participants.”

Fellow Young Ambassador Xander Payne, who is currently developing a podcast for local young people, said: “Usually, we are based in our schools and local communities to put on events, sometimes alongside community groups, so we had to think of new ways to get people active during lockdown.

“We had separate competitions for schools and individuals. Some whole classes signed up and took part during school time as part of their physical activities. I really enjoyed the challenge – I did my fastest mile when we got caught in a rain storm. We hope that those who took part will continue to stay active long after the competition’s end.”

Maxine Boobyer from Bridgend County Borough Council’s Active Young People department said: “The feedback we have received is amazing with many families choosing to continue with a mile a day after the challenge ended.

"We are delighted and very proud of our Young Ambassadors and look forward to seeing what ideas they come up with next.”

The Young Ambassador programme in Wales is run in partnership between Sport Wales, Youth Sport Trust and the sport development team in each local authority. It is funded by the National Lottery.

Keen to make a difference in local communities and at a national level, youngsters create and deliver opportunities for their peers and even adults to be physically active through sport. In turn, the programme provides them with confidence and skills to be the sporting leaders of the future.

Some of the young people who took part in the Mile a Day in March competition

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