Women in Sport  North Wales Conference 2019 Breaking Down Barriers

Barriers stopping women taking part in sport are starting to be being broken down thanks to an initiative in North Wales to bridge the gender gap and to encourage women and young girls to get involved in sport.

Over the last year motivation is on the up and more opportunities are opening to  get  women involved in sport,  this was the clear message  at the second annual conference of Women in Sport held at Adventure Parc Snowdonia on Thursday (June 25th) .

 

“We want to identify the barriers stopping women getting involved in sport and smash them,” said Ruth Lloyd Williams, founder of business group Network She, who have partnered with the Surf Centre, to help close the sport gender gap and help women find and create opportunities to participate in sport and activities. 

This year’s conference was a true celebration of what has been achieved in just 12 months since the initiative was  first launched. 

 Inspirational speakers and community groups shared their stories of how networking and coming together has inspired individuals and community groups allowing them to  pick up the gauntlet and become actively involved in sport. 

These included Gemma Gale who, with the support of her fellow Porth Eirias Runners, has overcome illness to compete in the London marathon and a local GP who approaching middle age, slimmed down from 22 stone to take part in competitive running.

In a bid to get more  females taking part in surfing, the surf centre launched Girls on Board last June after they looked at bookings  and realised  the majority were made by females but for males to take part. The Women in Sport North Wales Conference 2018 was the grand finale for the Girl on Board initiative. This year Adventure Parc Snowdonia have actively increased the numbers of  female staff and surf coaches.

“We want to empower more women to engage and start a conversation which will bring positive action and girls on board… changing stereotypes and increasing engagement, “ said Adventure Park Snowdonia  Commercial manager Justin Everley. 

Motivational speakers also included  Helen Sharp who has cystic fibrosis, which led to a double lung transplant last May.  She is fully recovered and a successful kick boxing champ, who now helps and motivates young people in her role as a PE teacher and sport instructor.

“The inspirational message from our speakers this year is definitely   I can, I will, I do…” said Ruth, “ …concentrate on what you can do and not focus on what you can’t. ”

   

 Women of all ages took part in the conference proving age is no barrier was Margaret Williams,  who in April ran her 15th London marathon at the age of 80.

Researcher Philippa Davies, from Cardiff  University, told around 120 women, of all ages at the conference, that although positive steps are being made there is still a huge participation gap between men and women.

Also taking part, offering encouragement and advice, from community groups such as Debra Barklin of Sported and Emma Jones of Street Games. Both are development charities that help people in the community start clubs and groups so that the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach young people in our society have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

There was also advice from the Conwy Sport team who gave an insight into the work they are doing in rural communities and for the disabled as well as promoting the open nominations for the  forthcoming Conwy Sports Awards

 The day not only gave inspiration and advice but  gave  participants the chance to try out the surf and other facilities  at Adventure Parc Snowdonia for free. For those who didn’t want to get their feet wet there was a picture opportunity to “surf” in the fun picture booth, made by a new company called Warehaus based in Mochdre,  especially for the event. 

The ultimate aim of the conference is to introduce the extensive range of sports and activities that are freely accessible and available in the region and, ultimately, to encourage participation of women and young girls.   

“The feedback from this years conference has been overwhelming and we are thrilled to know we are making a difference,” said Ruth, “There is still lots to do to stem the fallout of young girls walking away from sport as they become teenagers. It was  therefore motivating to hear the positive attitude of the young sports ambassadors who we will continue to work with and support moving forward.”

 

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