Building connections between young people

YST Building connections between young people
Evaluation of our work shows that giving young people the opportunity to take part in sport can help provide a sense of belonging and the opportunity to make new friends.

Young people feel disconnected, isolated and lonely and are less happy with their friendships than previous generations. Four-out-of-five adolescents report feelings of loneliness at some time, and almost a third describe these feelings as persistent and painful.

Feelings of isolation can be exacerbated for young disabled people, who are among the most likely to feel excluded and can also have fewer opportunities to be physically active. There are around 770,000 children with disabilities living in the UK — around 1 in 20.

Project: Allianz Dare to Believe Festivals

Building on the legacy of the Paralympics and a proud history of supporting inclusive sport, Allianz partnered with us to deliver a national series of 24 mixed sport festivals for over 100 primary schools across England. The events challenged attitudes and perceptions to special educational needs and disabilities among young people and within their local communities.


  • 2,580 young people brought together to enjoy Paralympic sports like boccia and seated volleyball
  • Three quarters of teachers reported that the festivals had helped their young people to make new friends or strengthen existing relationships
  • 88% of teachers reported that their young people now better understood the importance of inclusive activity. 

A primary school teacher engaged in Dare to Believe commented: "One of my SEND children was so positive about the experience that she had with the Dare to Believe programme that she is now attending further extracurricular clubs at school and her confidence has rocketed in her class and PE lessons. She is now a role model for other children in giving things a go." 

Case study: Local People Programme

This project connects schools and communities to unlock the social benefits of sport and physical activity in local neighbourhoods, fostering a sense of pride in the community. Fatima Hussein is an 18-year-old Muslim woman from a Somali community in the London borough of Brent. Through the Local People Project, delivered by YST on behalf of the People’s Health Trust, she has been given training and support to develop her confidence and aspirations to make a change.

She said: “Through my involvement in the Local People Programme, I have developed skills to support more young Muslim girls to get active in the community. I now regularly lead football sessions and give a voice to girls in my community. What I believe matters is that a person can show empathy, friendship and a sense of humanity. Sport does just this.”

Our Impact

The following findings were presented as part of our 2018 Impact Report - published in February 2019. A full version of the report is available for download on this page.
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Improving mental and physical wellbeing

Tackling the decline in young people’s wellbeing through sport and play is central to our Believing in Every Child’s Future strategy.
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Promoting healthy and active lifestyles

YST delivers high-quality and inclusive competitive sport to young people in 20,851 schools through the School Games, while our Hub Schools provide a nontraditional sporting offer tailored to targeted groups of young people disengaged from sport and physical activity.
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Developing life skills

Our work uses the power of sport and play to help young people develop attributes like teamwork and resilience, leadership and communication skills which will help them to thrive in other areas of their lives.
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Boosting levels of attainment and achievement

Research shows a positive association between participation in physical activity and young people’s academic performance - as discussed during Professor John Ratey's keynote speech at the YST 2018 Annual Conference.
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Enhancing support networks

Families, teachers, coaches, friends and peers all have a signifcant part to play in giving a young person the best start in life. A huge focus of our work is on enhancing these support networks to give them the best opportunity to make a positive impact on young people’s lives.
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