Attendees were between the ages of 16-25 and came from a range of different backgrounds and experiences, but they all had a shared need to make a positive change in sport and physical activity.
This short film tells the story of the three days, with reflections from a number of the young people who took part.
Two of the attendees from the Youth Summit Steering Group, Molly and Radhika, explain what the event was all about.
Coming out of Covid-19, at an age where digital technology and social media are booming, we, as young people, feel less connected. A steering group made up of eight young people co-designed this event with staff from the Youth Sport Trust, and knowing the benefits of physical activity on our physical, mental, and social wellbeing, we believed it was essential to give young people the platform to have a say on how physical activity and sport can be a positive experience for all.
Over the weekend, young people connected with one another through a range of activities and discussions, to shape call-to-actions around celebrating diversity, encouraging choice, and promoting wellbeing.
Friday: We focused on connecting.
As a young person, coming to a brand-new place, potentially knowing no other young people, can be daunting. Therefore, it was important for us that the first day made all young people feel safe and connected to others. On the Friday, a range of activities took place, such as icebreakers, energisers, and the Youth Summit Team Cup - which was a competitive multi-skill festival. This provided the opportunity for young people to get to know each other, connect and become friends. We saw the benefits of this last throughout the weekend, as all young people shared their thoughts, opinions and experiences openly with their peers.
Saturday: We introduced the themes.
Saturday was all about young people sharing their experiences in physical activity and sport, related to diversity, choice, and wellbeing, and identifying what could be done to ensure every young person has a positive experience.
To explore how diverse and inclusive sport and physical activity is, we had young people identify what makes them unique and what their strengths are, and then celebrate this through different activities. We heard talks from young people in attendance about being a woman in sport, having a visual impairment, and being from an ethnic minority background, which highlighted some of their positive and negative experiences, allowing everyone an insight into their experience.
To explore how much choice is encouraged, young people chose who they want to work with, and created accessible tabletop games with an emphasis on choices players could make to modify the game. We also heard from a panel of young people, talking about the different choices they have had to make in relation to physical activity, whether that was the type of activity, when or where, and whether they could take part in it at all.
To explore our wellbeing theme, we heard from Nancy Hey, Executive Director at What Works Wellbeing. She shared with us the data and science behind what wellbeing is and why being active is so good for us. This prompted discussions on the importance, and benefits that being active has for each individual, and their personal journey within sport, physical activity, and wellbeing.
The attendees then decided which area they felt most passionate about and split into groups that looked at celebrating diversity, encouraging choice, and promoting wellbeing. In groups, young people were asked to discuss and give feedback to the wider group on a number of areas highlighting where action is necessary, and some suggestions on how we can achieve positive change. This then informed the call to actions, which were drafted by the steering group, and presented back to all attendees the following day.
Sunday: Presenting the Call to Actions to Partners
On Sunday we refined our calls to action and prepared them to share with over 25 partners who joined us on the day. Call to action statements were presented back to attendees to gather their feedback to ensure we had really captured their voice. Following this, we went back into our separate groups, to identify further where changes were needed and plan our afternoon presentations.
In the afternoon, we were joined by the partners, who heard the young people present and bring to life each call to action, sharing the stories and lived experiences behind each message. Each organisation had the opportunity to ask the young people questions, and they were then asked to make a pledge on how they would support us implement these calls to action.
You can see the Call to Actions at #CalltoAction and #YSTYouthSummit
We believe the call to actions derived from the Youth Summit are pivotal to giving young people the power to transform sport.
So what can we all do with this information?
If you are a young person – take this to your coach, manager, other young people at your organisation and discuss with them: what is currently being done around diversity, choice and wellbeing?
How can you work together to implement the call to actions?
If you work for a sport organisation – reflect on how much your organisation celebrates diversity, encourages choice, and promotes wellbeing. Where are the gaps? Using the Call to Actions, how can this inform your work moving forward? How are you including young people and their voice in this?
Esha, a young person who attended the event, said:
“It was so refreshing to be surrounded by so many like-minded young people who also want to push for change within sport to help create a more inclusive and accessible sporting environment.”
Sarah Nickless - Partnerships and Programmes Development Officer from AoC Sport also attended:
“The Youth Summit was a great event to see and hear from young people, their experiences, and desires for things to be better. It felt like an incredibly positive and supportive space for those attending to be and express themselves, meaning the calls to action which were presented to us are representative and authentic.
We have a lot of work do to ensure sport and physical activity is a place where all young people feel like they belong. The calls to action can apply to every organisation delivering sport from grassroots clubs to national governing bodies, and it must be a collective effort from us all to make things better.
Thank you to the Youth Sport Trust for hosting the Youth Summit and starting this conversation.”
The Youth Summit aimed to connect young people, and to unite their voices to share a message. It gave so many different young people, with different experiences and perspectives, a space to have open discussions, connect, and make a difference.
If you take anything from this article, please take this: Young people know what young people want. Listen to our experiences, find out what we think is going well in our sports or physical activities, and what maybe needs to be changed. Young people are the future so help us to shape it into the future we want.
If you are interested in learning more about the YST Youth Summit or would like to share how you are implementing the call to actions, please get in touch with Steph Matthews at
Molly & Radhika
Youth Summit Steering Group