The University of East London (UEL) is not just part of the local community – we also play an active role in making things betters for the people of East London.
Sport is a great driver for social change, which is why East London Sport launched the SportInYourFutures community programme to increase engagement in both sport and physical activity.
The programme is the first of its kind on this scale for East London Sport and is designed to directly tackle the low levels of engagement with physical activity among primary school ages children in East London boroughs.
Despite hosting the London 2012 Olympics, Newham has one of the highest rates of child obesity in England. According to Public Health England in 2017, within Newham, obesity levels in children in year six and above are at 43 per cent, which is over both the average for the South East of England at 16 per cent plus the national average for England at 19 per cent.
Newham is also one of the most deprived boroughs in England, so having access to high-quality sports facilities is often a challenge for young people.
Hosted at SportsDock on the University’s Docklands campus, primary school pupils are invited to attend UEL matches, exposing them to both taking part and watching high performance sport. For many of the pupils attending this is often their first experience of both live sport and of attending a university.
Sunny Hunjan, a PE teacher at Kensington Primary School said, "It was good to see the girls getting involved in sports they've never played before and you could see they really enjoyed it with big smiles on their faces."
Before matches, UEL sport scholars take the children through a series of fun exercises and sporting activities from volleyball to judo, plus share insight into the wider health and wellbeing benefits of sport.
There is also a Q&A with the scholars, who often boast a range of national and international sporting medals, so pupils can ask questions about university life and get advice on starting their own journey into a sporting career.
Rob, a PE teacher at Sir John Herron Primary School, said, "Today has been inspirational for the children, has opened their eyes to future careers and potential higher education opportunities."
Brining the pupils into our world class sport facilities and enabling them to speak directly with young adults who they can relate to aims to instil positive behaviours and aspirations about careers in sport from a young age.
SportInYourFutures happens every Wednesday and has proved to be a big success so far, having hosted over 20 primary schools and more than 1,150 pupils.