New programme sends powerful message to girls

The Youth Sport Trust has teamed up with Sophie Radcliffe, adventure athlete, blogger and now, youth mentor on a new innovative programme to boost confidence and self-belief among teenage girls.

Launching on International Women’s Day (8 March) in a bid to tackle rising mental health problems among teenage girls, TrailBlazers is a ground breaking youth empowerment initiative.

It is aimed at helping young girls develop the confidence and skills to navigate their own path and live courageously. By using the transformative power of adventure, active challenges and the inspiration of a relatable role model to tackle the alarming decline in mental health and physical activity among secondary-school aged girls, and advise them how social media can be used for good and to inspire one another.

More than a third of teenage girls now suffer from anxiety or depression, according to Department for Education statistics. Research released by the YST and Women in Sport revealed that fewer than one in ten girls achieve the recommended daily 60 minutes of physical activity, attributed to a lack of confidence.

The pilot programme is initially working with 100 year 9 and 10 girls across six schools in London and Kent. The teenage girls involved will undertake a series of confidence building challenges, encouraging them to try new things and break out of the bubble of their day to day lives.

It will culminate with an adventure in the summer, where the teenage girls will be invited to put into practice everything they have worked on and set them on their way to blazing their own trail in life.

YST ambassador Sophie Radcliffe, is on a mission to champion and encourage ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. She is a social activist, an adventure athlete and blogger, who quit her 9-5 job in London at the age of 27 to pursue her love of adventure. She is the only person to have climbed the highest mountains in the eight Alpine countries and cycled between them.

The six schools taking part in the pilot programme are: Chobham Academy, Fulham Cross Girls School, The Urswick School, Holy Family Catholic School, Walthamstow, Harefield Academy, Uxbridge and Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone, Kent

Sophie Radcliffe said:

We want to help girls build their confidence, resilience and develop the skills that will be instrumental in them living courageously to fulfil their hopes and dreams.

My passion for this project is borne from my own experience.  I was dubbed a failure by my teachers and bullied at school. I want to speak to girls on their level and inspire and support them to take action over their fears by really digging deep into what’s import and what’s holding them back.

I hope that by the summer we will have helped these girls figure out how to be true to themselves, find their place in this ever-changing world and develop the courage to blaze their own trails.


YST Chief Executive Ali Oliver said:

We know that those growing up in the digital age are less active than previous generations, and far too many teenage girls are struggling with anxiety and low self-esteem.

Through our work with Sophie we want to find a way to turn this heart-breaking situation around by reaching young people on their own terms.

Sophie is a fantastic role model whose story shows how social media can be used to inspire a healthy, active lifestyle, raise aspiration and create a community of support which enhances confidence and resilience.

I’m really excited to see how Sophie’s story can help inspire girls to set their aspirations higher and embrace the idea that being active online doesn’t have to mean being inactive offline.

Following Sophie’s initial visit to the Holy Cross School in Fulham, Ellie Cole, Head of PE, said: 

I’ve seen girls smile and speak up who would not do that in class. The quiet ones were happy to speak up in this group. I think they are going to get a lot out of it.

Watch the Trailblazers video

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