Young sports activists celebrated at charity’s awards by Olympic pole vault star

Young sports activists celebrated at charity’s awards by Olympic pole vault star  

A group of 10 students at a Buckinghamshire school have been recognised for helping to change lives through sport at the Youth Sport Trust’s (YST) national awards ceremony.  

The charity’s annual awards recognised a total of five YST Young Changemaker Awards and four Girls Active Awards as part of a big virtual celebration on 24 November, supported by sports stars including Team GB pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw and Team GB swimmer Alice Dearing.   

The students from Alfriston School were named as the winner of YST’s Inclusion Award – presented by Holly Bradshaw, who won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, Team GB’s first ever medal in pole vault.  

The students were awarded for their role in leading the YST’s ‘Supporting girls with autism’ programme, having played a key role in reaching girls with autism who may be ‘flying under the radar’ and disengaged from a wide range of school activities and their communities. The group were recognised for carefully creating a light-hearted and unhurried atmosphere in PE lessons and extracurricular activities to ensure enjoyment and confidence in all young people.

They have also offered to lead transition workshops to support upcoming Year 6 girls at their school, acting as role models who can support those starting secondary school.  

On receiving the award, Verity (year 11) and Gwen (post-16) who have helped lead the programme at Alfriston School, said: 

“The project has made me feel less shy and speak up more. It’s made me less afraid of trying new things. I loved trying horse-riding and ice skating through it because it was so energetic.”

The virtual awards ceremony was hosted by Paralympian Kate Grey and World champion inline skater Jenna Downing.   

Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:

“The Girls Active and YST Young Changemaker Awards offer a fantastic opportunity for young people to not only be recognised, but allow them to reflect upon, and celebrate the impact of their work over the last year.  

“The awards are primarily about harnessing young people’s talents, voice and encouraging them to make a difference to others through sport. However, they also celebrate getting young people active and healthier through play and sport. Our research around barriers to participation in physical activity and sport tells us that one of the best ways to engage young people is through encouragement from their peers – something all these young people have done brilliantly.  

“To date, the Awards have recognised hundreds of young people and some incredible achievements, both as positive peer influencers and participants. We look forwards to celebrating this year’s cohort.” 

The list of the 2021 award winners are below:  

Character and Leadership Award – presented by rowing superstar and Chair of UK Sport, Katherine Grainger DBE: Zuleikha Chikh – The FA Asian Girls Insight Pilot Project. 

National School Sport Week Award – presented by Team GB swimmer, Alice Dearing: Woodthorpe Junior and Infant School in Birmingham.

Physical and Mental Health Award – presented by Carl Konadu, co-founder of 2-3 degrees: ‘Boys Move: I AM Project’ led by Archbishop Beck Catholic College in Liverpool. 

International Development Award – presented by Kevin Barton:  Nada Abdulmonem AlKholi from Khawla Secondary Girls’ School, Bahrain. 

Girls Active Award winners:  

Personal Growth Award: Rhea Groves, Slated Row School in Milton Keynes. 

Best Group/GLAMS Award: The Bourne Academy, GALS – Girls Active Leaders Squad in Bournemouth. 

Innovative project award: Year 8 Girls Active Leaders, Kingsbury High School in London. 

Resilient Leader Award: Skye Vurnum, Herne Bay High School in Kent. 

The awards took place online and saw shortlisted young people and their class bubble/year groups join virtually for the celebrations.  

The charity would like to thank Sweaty Betty Foundation, Enrich Education, Limitless and Play Innovation for the donation of prizes. For more information on the Girls Active Awards and programme please visit . For more information about the Youth Sport Trust please visit