Big Sister project combats barriers faced by teenage girls in sport

19 May 2022

Teenage girls across South Yorkshire will get free access to fitness facilities, period products, and online health education as part of a programme to increase their involvement in sport and exercise.

Big Sister is designed to support girls aged 9-15 to find joy in exercise during puberty, after a study found 43% of girls who once called themselves ‘sporty’ disengaged from sport after primary school.

Ellen, 19, who is a mentor for girls taking part, said: “I only recently found the type of exercise for me, and now I am confident in my ability, I’ve stopped comparing myself to others, and I feel better in myself. Big Sister can help other people discover that.”

Hey Girls is one of the partners of the programme and will provide free period products at leisure centres and send reusable items to participants’ homes.

Kate Smith, co-founder of the charity, said: “We know keeping girls in PE is a massive problem. When they have started their period, they can feel quite vulnerable in sports especially if they haven’t got the money for products.

“Can you imagine being in school, having to use toilet paper in your underwear, and then having to take part in PE?”

Big Sister is paid for by the Tampon Tax Fund, which allocates the money generated from the 5% VAT on sanitary products to organisations supporting disadvantaged women and girls. It is run by Women in Sport, in partnership with other charities and organisations.

Project manager, Lee Warren, said: “Through the consultations we did with girls, we found they wanted support from people who had dealt with those same challenges. That’s why Big Sister has been created by girls, for girls.”

They aim to get 23,000 girls to use the online hub, and 3,000 to use the free gym membership scheme provided by Places Leisure in seven of their South Yorkshire centres.

The online hub includes information about gender stereotypes and stigma, and gives teenage girls access to free support and practical advice from mentors to help them navigate the challenges of puberty.

Ms Smith said: “It should bring in a lot of users, as long as people understand there is no catch, and this is a free project just to get people involved and break down those barriers.”

Written by Chloe Aslett

You May Also Like…

Skip to content