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Brighton and Hove students inspired by This Girl Can event

A group of seven women smiling at the camera
The Be Inspired By panelists - Alexia Walker, Carys Williams, Jessica Freeman, Nicola Harvey, Lucy Pinto, Dr Tilly Spurr, and Jenny Weall.

Brighton and Hove students inspired by This Girl Can event

An event to inspire secondary school girls to participate in sport and physical activity saw more than 60 pupils from Brighton and Hove attend.

The This Girl Can Be Inspired By event, which took place on Friday, March 15 at the Sussex Cricket County Ground, was also a chance for the school girls to hear from inspirational women who have forged careers in the sport and leisure field and inspire them to think about a career in the sector. 

The day was organised by School Games organiser Emma Greenough, from Brighton and Hove City Council, in partnership with Gemma Finlay-Gray from Active Sussex, and Charlotte Burton, the Womens and Girls Development Officer at Sussex Cricket Foundation.  

Emma said: “The This Girl Can – Be Inspired By event today was to inspire the students and their teachers to think about what changes they can make back at school to encourage more girls to take part in sport and physical activity and to have more open conversations on why girls don’t participate and what those barriers are. 

“We also hope the panel of inspirational speakers today really opened up the students’ eyes about what careers and opportunities there are. 

“It’s been great working in partnership with Active Sussex, Sussex Cricket Foundation and Brighton and Hove City Council to design and develop this event for the secondary schools in the city and we hope this is the start of many more events like this.” 

The students came from seven schools – Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA), Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA), Patcham High School, Dorothy Stringer School, Varndean School, Cardinal Newman Catholic School, and Blatchington Mill School.

The inspirational women’s panel was hosted by Alexia Walker, director of cricket at Aldridge Cricket Academy and Sussex Women’s Head Coach.

Talking to the young girls were Carys Williams, an independent member of the sporting commission for Premiership Rugby; Nicola Harvey, a yoga and mindfulness teacher representing Brighton Yoga Foundation; Dr Tilly Spurr, a performance nutritionist and senior lecturer in sports nutrition; Lucy Pinto, the CEO and founder of The Box (Boxing fitness studio) in Brighton; Jessica Freeman, who has multiple roles in rugby including Head of People at Six Nations Rugby and a community coach for the Harlequins; and Jenny Weall, a clinical psychologist.

Angela Simmonds, a PE teacher at Varndean School, said of the panel discussion: “I found it really inspirational. It was interesting to see all the different journeys, pathways and routes into this sector and the wide variety of jobs available working in sport. I am hoping the kids have the same reaction as me.”

Following a yoga and mindfulness session with Nicola Harvey, the girls took part in workshops around being active and finding the right sports bra, being active and period health, and a student voice session designed to find out more about why some girls are inactive.

Workshop facilitators included Lucy Horsell, co-founder of PeBe; Emily Allen, founder of EmPower Health; and Heidi Tambeh, a Street Games Youth Voice facilitator.

After the event, the students were buzzing and full of enthusiasm.

Molly said of the youth voice workshop: “I like being heard. I think we should do this with all the other girls at school. It was good to hear other voices.”

Charlotte said of the bra and period workshops: “More people should know about it. It was really interesting learning why we are lethargic [at different points of the menstrual cycle] and everyone had the wrong bra size.”

A large room with students sitting in small circles talking to individual panellists
The breakout discussion time was a chance for students to question the panellists further
A group of girls gathered around one woman and discussing what to write on a large piece of paper stuck on the wall
Heidi Tambeh talking to students about their experience of sport and physical activity at school
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