We’ve found that successful projects take a flexible, open, friendly, and patient approach to programme design.
This begins with finding out what’s important to your community, prioritising it, and building physical activity sessions from that point. Give opportunity and flexibility to offer a range of activities, reacting to what your community is interested in, and allowing ownership and leadership by participants and the local community.
It’s a good idea to use a variety of marketing methods to reach and engage with people within your target audience to discover what works. Consider the language that you use – often we saw that the word ‘sport’ can put people off.
It’s important that sport and physical activity sessions are accessible and welcoming to all. Consider hosting sessions away from potentially intimidating settings (e.g. the gym) and providing readily-available information that explains what happens at a session (for example, with a video shared online) so budding participants know more about what to expect.
Having volunteers who are trusted members of the community welcoming people to the sessions is a good way to foster positivity and trust in sessions from the get-go. Equally, the key skills for coaches and session leaders should relate more to inter-personal skills and building trust than technical coaching ability.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to change things if something isn’t working – take a flexible approach and respond to what does and doesn’t work.