A group of determined LGBTQ+ young people from Wigan borough have proved the importance of not giving up on a challenge!
Wigan Council’s youth group, BYOU, set themselves the task of actively covering 1,000 miles between them in one month, to help raise awareness of the disparity between the fitness levels of LGBTQ+ people and the wider community and to help improve their own physical fitness and encourage a love of keeping fit.
Youth worker at Wigan Council, Scott Williams, said:
“As youth workers on the BYOU project, we’re really aware of the need to promote physical health and wellbeing locally because we know that LGBTQ+ young people are less likely to take part in physical activity.
“This could be for a variety of reasons, such as having negative experiences of sport at school or anxieties linked to the practicalities of getting involved in sports such as single gendered changing rooms.
“So, every September, we introduce ‘Sports-tember’ and the group come up with their own physical challenge.”
This September, the young people decided they would complete 1,000 miles between them and in lots of different ways including walking, running, cycling, and kayaking. However, this was a tough challenge and at the end of September they still had several miles to cover.
“The group did not give up and decided to keep going with the challenge. I’m now excited to announce that we have exceeded our 1,000-mile barrier! It feels as though we have collectively won our race!”
A report by Pride Sports for Sport England in 2016, which examined research from organisations including the National LGBT Partnership, National Union of Students and Stonewall, found that 55% of LGBT men, 56% of LGBT women and 64% of people who identified as other than female or male, were not active enough to maintain good health.
Reasons given for not participating in sport were cited as an increased prevalence of homophobic or transphobic language in sports settings and an acceptance of this as ‘banter’, a lack of acceptance within their school sport environment and, amongst younger people, a higher level of poor mental health generally than the wider community.
The challenge builds on the work the BYOU group have been doing in partnership with local schools, to help make PE lessons more accessible for LGBTQ+ young people.
Group member, Alix, 15, said:
“I really enjoyed being in the outdoors and I also found exercising with friends made a difference as we could have interesting conversations so I didn’t even feel like I was exercising.”
Oskar, 17, added:
“Studies show that LGBTQ+ young people don’t do enough exercise due to limitations such as not feeling comfortable in changing rooms. But being active can help your mental health as well as your physical health so it can make a big difference. I was both nervous and excited about the kayaking, but it was good to try something new.”
The BYOU group offers activities and a confidential, safe space for young LGBTQ+ people in Wigan borough.
For more information, email [email protected]