Over the last two years, seven European countries as part of a Eramsus+ (European funded project) have partnered on promoting social inclusion for BME learners through health enhancing physical activity. As the Welsh partner, CollegesWales and over 100 other delegates from Europe attended a conference in Naples last Friday to celebrate the impact and success of the project.
The main focus of the YSDA (Youth Sport Development Ambassador) project was to provide opportunities for change – the young skills ambassadors have been the catalyst for this change, providing opportunities in a safe and welcoming college environments for ethnic minority groups to engage in physical activity. This project has already had a knock on effect with new networks and new projects for young people in 2018- 2019 around upskilling of refugees and social interaction in place.
It is well documented that the drop off in physical activity post-16 is as high as 50% for some groups, and CollegesWales is committed to reducing this rate to ensure a healthier and more equal Wales. The impact of the YSDA project has been particularly prominent in Swansea and Newport, with the Newport project opening the door for new activity at Nash Road Campus, Coleg Gwent. Through engagement work on the YSDA project, it was identified that the City of Newport Campus of Coleg Gwent had a cohort of 500+ BME students, the campus had not been part of prior projects and had no sports department / curriculum or related enrichment offer for students. This situation presented an opportunity for the college to develop new activity but also presents a wider development opportunity for Newport Live, BME sport Cymru and Sport Wales.
Sarah Howells Coleg Gwent said “being a part of YSDA has allowed us to reach out and support the harder to reach communities and individuals who have been through so much to even reach Wales. The sense of belonging and engaging with others from similar situations has allowed for the learners to prosper and gain hope through physical activity for a brighter, healthier future.”
Colleges are committed to social inclusion and providing lifelong learning access for all. Located centrally in towns and cities, breaking down barriers particularly for refugees and asylum seekers through providing education and now physical activity and friendship opportunities is an important part of college activity.
Meeting and exceeing international standards is a Welsh Government priority for Welsh FE colleges, providing all our learners with the skills and knowledge, ambition, confidence and qualifications they need for individual and national success. Integration and inclusion of all learners is crucial to the success of achieving this ambition, and CollegesWales is actively working with Welsh and UK Government to safeguard the continuation of access to Erasmus+ project opportunties post Brexit.
CollegesWales manages the largest Erasmus+ consortium mobility projects in the UK. In 2018, CollegesWales received funding of €1.3 million that will enable over 520 vocational learnersand apprentices to undertake two-week work placements across Europe. This project will end on 31 August 2020. Its just one examples of the many projects like YSDA that CollegesWales is involved in.
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