Aura’s Sports Development team has recently received the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sport and Physical Activity’ Award by the Get Out Get Active programme in North Wales, a partnership between Disability Sport Wales and Pride Cymru, to support disabled and non-disabled LGBTQ+ people. Aura was recognised for its contribution and continued commitment to providing safe, welcoming and inclusive opportunities for young people to participate in sport and physical activities in the county of Flintshire.
Over the past three years, Aura has supported workforce development within the Sports Development team via Pride Cymru training. This collective learning has been implemented across Aura’s community sports hubs and school programmes. Pride Cymru was invited to be part of Aura’s Fit, Fed & Read scheme during the school holidays to demonstrate awareness and allyship for LGBTQ+ young people. Indeed, Fit, Fed & Read supported some local volunteers and families to access LGBTQ+ national opportunities.
At the Pride Youth Games held in Wrexham in August 2023, Aura delivered a residential programme for LGBTQ+ young people who subsequently reported to feel safer and closer to physical activity in this bespoke setting. Several young people expressed that school sports did not feel accessible to them due to changing facilities, gender-based games and clothing, together with a pre-conceived idea of ability. The Pride Youth Games provides young people with opportunities to try a range of sports in an environment that works for them. The Dodgeball session delivered by Aura was particularly well-received with the non-gender-based teams and the inclusive delivery style being lauded.
Emma Jones, Get Out Get Active Officer at Pride Cymru, said: “It has been such a pleasure to work in partnership with Aura’s Sports Development team. They are always the first to be open to working with others and creating strong sustainable programmes based on the needs and feedback of young people in their communities. This collaborative approach has enabled us to gauge a better understanding of the barriers and recommendations for creating more inclusive environments, and Aura’s sharing of its learning and good practice is very welcome.
Pride Cymru looks forward to continuing its relationship with Aura and I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ from the Get Out Get Active team.”
Sian Williams, Aura’s Leisure Development Manager, commented: “Aura is delighted to receive this award as recognition of its work with LGBTQ+ young people. We are proud of the collective action undertaken across our Sports Development and Leisure teams in organising and delivering inclusive activities, providing training for employees and collaborating with partners, with the Jade Jones Pavilion Pride Event and Dance and Well-Being session for young people being prime examples. Our experience of working with these partners has been really positive and we hope to do more in the future to continue to make a difference.”
The Express Yourself LGBTQ+ School programme was launched at the end of 2023 and continues to run in schools across Flintshire. This programme delivers creative expression and movement specifically for LGBTQ+ young people and provides a pathway to link to Flintshire’s Integrated Youth Service and VIVA LGBTQ+ Youth Group who provide support and tailored programmes for LGBTQ+ young people.
Photos: Maria Nikolopoulou, who works on the Express Yourself LGBTQ+ School programme, holds the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sport and Physical Activity’ Award.