The first of a series of Community Sports Banks kicked off in Wellington last week, in a bid to tackle inequality and break down the barriers to sport.
The Wellington City Mission initiative aims to reduce and eliminate the cost of equipment for those in need and, by this, increase sport participation and activity.
“Poverty in sport is a growing issue in our own backyard, with the cost of subs and fees, equipment and transport being the three main barriers to children, young people and families’ ability to access and participate in sport,” says Ray Tuffin, the Mission’s Community Development Manager.
“Our research shows that less than five per cent of children in low decile schools belong to a sports club, compared with nearly 60 per cent in higher decile schools.”
“A lack of income, resources, and confidence often results in social isolation, including participation in sport. To build inclusion, self-esteem and resilience among children and young people, we have to start somewhere, and establishing Community Sports Banks is a good place to start.”
“The Sports Banks will collect and redistribute sports gear, allowing more young people to experience the joys of sport, while also keeping equipment out of landfills and on the playing fields where it belongs.”
A supply of Community Sports Bank cards will be distributed to community social workers, youth workers, tenancy advisors, and others who support families and children. The cards will then be issued to those in need, who can head to their local Sports Bank and access gear they couldn't otherwise afford
The first of the Community Sports Bank is located at The Hub, Poneke in Kilbirnie, with others planned in targeted communities across the Wellington region.
Wellington City Council has jumped on board, in recognition of the need improve equity in sport and recreation.
“All around the world people are becoming less physically active. We know that not having access to the right sports gear can often be the reason why children and young people aren’t able to sign up for or participate in sport and recreation,” says Ali Whitton, the council’s Health and Wellbeing Partnership Leader.
“The vision of region-wide Community Sports Banks is an amazing initiative that could significantly help people in our region continue to participate in the sports they love,” he says.
The sports gear is being donated by a variety of organisations including Wellington Cricket, Wellington Rugby and the Phoenix, and also Wellington residents. The Mission will also work with NGO’s who have op-shops to further support the banks with donations.
“And this is only the start. Cheaper fees and help with travel are next on the to-do list,” says Ray.