Prince Harry joined young people at Wigan Youth Zone on Tuesday to see for himself the positive impact sport is having on their lives.
He was in Wigan to offer his support for projects that promote sport as a means for social development and improving the life chances of young people.
During his tour of one of our state-of-the-art Youth Zone facilities, he met members who pay just 50p a visit to access a wide range of activities from football and rugby to climbing and skateboarding.
He learned about our own approach to inspiring young people to get active, through a combination of engaging facilities that are designed around the way young people like to socialise, exciting activities and enthusiastic staff that act as positive role models, encouraging involvement.
For example, our ‘Try, Train, Team’ approach, encourages sustained participation in sporting activity by providing a pressure-free route to progression.
Prince Harry also took the opportunity to meet with our founder Bill Holroyd CBE DL and Deputy Chairman John Roberts.
They explained how a national network of Youth Zones is being established and discussed our plan to create facilities in 100 towns and cities across the UK, reaching young people most in need.
Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of OnSide Youth Zones, said: “It was fantastic for the young people to meet Prince Harry and for him to hear first-hand how sport is supporting their personal development.
“Sport is not just about staying healthy. It also helps nurture the positive attitudes and life skills that can make all the difference to a young person’s confidence and prospects.
“However, many young people lack access to appealing and affordable leisure facilities where they can try their hand in a pressure-free environment.
“Prince Harry’s visit to Wigan re-enforces the importance of encouraging sustained sporting participation and using it as a means to tackle broader social issues.
“OnSide Youth Zones’ approach is to ensure sport is offered alongside a diverse range of other positive activities, such as drama, music, art, fashion and enterprise. We often find members join with no plan to get active but are drawn in by the inclusive and fun way sport is offered.”
We have recently studied the positive impact of grassroots sporting participation on young people’s attitudes and behaviours.
Preliminary results show significant benefits are delivered across key areas of personal development and mental health, including making friends, understanding and managing feelings and dealing well with problems, disappointment and stress.
Around 70% of young people attending a Youth Zone are exercising regularly each week, with 46% taking part in team sports and 41% taking part in individual activities.