Role Models project to inspire the next generation of female sports stars

Yorkshire social enterprise company Totally Runable Ltd are introducing inspiring posters featuring real life female athletes to more than 355,000 school pupils across West and South Yorkshire this week as part of their ‘Role Models’ campaign.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:14 am
Totally Runable's Role Model Project introduces inspiring images of girls and women participating in sport

Pre-Covid research showed that for every one photograph of a woman playing sport in a national newspaper there were 33 photos of men playing sport.

The project aims to redress that balance and close what Totally Runable calls the ‘Gender Sport Gap’ in primary schools.

Totally Runable works with girls and female school staff building confidence in sport. World bronze medallist 800m runner Jenny Meadows, who is a director of the company said: “Our Role Models project is about putting awesome female role models aged 10 to 16 in front of girls and boys at primary school, because ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’.

"We're celebrating our campaign launch by releasing a new season of our See Sporty Be Sporty podcast, speaking to inspiring female athletes about the importance of their own role models. This season features Hannah Cockroft, Bethany England, Laura Massaro, and Stacey Copeland, to name but a few.

"It’s so important that girls are seeing other girls being sporty, so that they know what might be possible for them in their lives, and we’re really excited to be launching it this week.”

With funding from the Yorkshire Sport Foundation, Persimmon Homes, and a successful crowdfunder fundraising campaign, the first round of posters is being sent to every primary school in West and South Yorkshire as well as all 200 schools who are part of Totally Runable’s ‘Girls and Sport Pledge’.

Schools who are not yet part of the pledge can sign up free via Totally Runable’s website for free resources and guidance on how to measure and close their own Gender Sport Gap.

Totally Runable’s co-founder and podcast host Natalie Jackson said: "The Gender Sport Gap at primary school is any difference between children identifying as girls and those identifying as boys in fitness, participation or confidence in PE, sport and physical activity.

"We know that boys will often run further than girls over a challenge run activity we do with them, and there is no physical reason for that to be the case at primary school age; it is entirely socialised.

"This isn’t something created in schools, but if we aren’t doing something in schools to question stereotypes around physical activity, whether projects like this or our other intervention work, then we are part of perpetuating the problem.

"We know from Government research, backed up by our own, that girls as young as seven-years-old are less confident than boys in physical activity, and that’s not okay.”

The project is being supported by the University of Huddersfield, with a team of students designing resources for schools to use the posters creatively in lessons, as well as researching the Gender Sport Gap in local schools.

Their initial research during lockdown found that over 94 per-cent of primary school staff felt that having more female role models would make a change in the confidence of girls.

Schools are being asked to share their inspiring stories about how they have used the posters with Totally Runable Ltd and the research team by tagging @TotallyRunable on social media or by emailing [email protected]