In conversation with… Aidan Diniz
We speak to community sports co-ordinator Aidan Diniz at Access to Sports to find out how they’re helping young people in Islington to get active
Tell us about Access to Sports. What do you offer in Islington?
We provide a wide range of sports – from athletics and archery to roller skating and tennis – on housing estates, in community spaces, leisure centres, parks and youth clubs across Islington. We mainly run programmes for young people, but we also work with adults and people with disabilities of all ages. Alongside this, we offer training for local people to gain qualifications as sports coaches and leaders. All our activities are free or low cost and open to all. We provide the necessary equipment at sessions and provide safety and introductory guidelines, as well as teach all the techniques and skills needed.
What sorts of activities do you provide?
Every holiday we run various free sports and healthy-eating camps. Programmes are split by age and delivered across Islington. They’re great for young people – they have a lot of fun, make new friends, and can try a new sport or improve their abilities. For instance, they might learn how to roller skate, improve their basketball technique, or develop archery skills.
We’re always looking to develop new activities to encourage everyone to get active. At the moment our roller skating sessions are really popular. Archery sessions, which we run at Lift Youth Hub and other locations, are also in demand and draw in new young people to sport and physical activity – often those who don’t enjoy traditional sports.
We run a weekly session for children and adults with learning disabilities, too. People get to try out different activities and find something they enjoy, whatever their level. We offer fitness activities, tennis, football and cycling. They’re delivered in school groups, with experienced coaches, using adapted sports equipment as required.
What are the benefits of the sessions?
Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do for your wellbeing. It can help you manage your weight and lower the risk of health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s great for mental health, too – being active makes you feel better about yourself and reduces stress. You also learn new skills, make friends – and most of all, it’s fun! The sessions also help build teamwork skills, confidence and communication.
We also run educational sessions on healthy eating, to help young people understand what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle. We provide lunches for those who are eligible for free school meals during the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays, too.
What would you say to someone who wants to get more active, but doesn’t know where to start?
Remember everyone has to start somewhere, so whatever your level, just give it a go. There’s no pressure, just find something you enjoy and try to stick with it. Getting out and about is key – maybe it’s a walk in the morning or joining a local sports group or activity. There are loads of activities on offer in Islington – there’s something for everyone!
To book an activity, call 020 7686 8812, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Access to Sports website.