Nike and UK Active release plan to scale Open Doors | children’s holiday fitness programme Sports management

Nike and UK Active release plan to scale Open Doors | children's holiday fitness programme  Sports management

By Frances Marcellin November 16, 2022

737 young people attended Open Doors this year, an increase of 37% over last year / United Kingdom Active

UK Active and Nike have released a report on the impact of the Open Doors 2022 programme, showing that it is a scalable model that could help keep thousands of children active during the school holidays.

Designed to remove typical socio-economic barriers to holiday activities, this year’s Open Doors program involved 737 children across 12 schools and venues in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. This is a 37% increase on last year, when 535 children took part in the scheme in ten city schools in London and Birmingham, UK.

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

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

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

“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 realize the potential of the Open Doors model to support millions of children in more”.

Dan Burrows, Senior Director of Social and Community Impact EMEA at Nike, said: “The growth of the Open Doors program is welcome news in our mission to increase access to sport and play for all.

“Open Doors helps remove the barriers that keep so many from staying active during their holidays and provides them with inclusive and safe spaces to play and connect with their peers. Next year we want to help even more children recognize and reach their full potential through sport and play.”

The report shows that 63% of participants were eligible for free school meals and that the median age was 10, with a gender split at 64.4% boys and 35.6% girls. In terms of demographics, 34% were White or White British; 25 percent Asian or Asian British; 17 per cent Black or Black British; 7% were mixed; and 15 percent registered as other.

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

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

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

“It is clear from this report that Open Doors has helped bring fun and movement to hundreds of children and young people who might otherwise have been isolated, inactive and hungry during the summer break,” said McAvoy. “We are so proud of the growth of this program and 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 education facilities across the UK and bring the power of sport and physical activity to young people in every community, regardless of their background or ability.”

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