Emma Mahon: Young people, you can do more for sport in this country than just play it – here’s how to take part

17-year-old Emma Mahon urges young people to apply for a place on the Young People’s Sport Panel to give youth a national voice in sport

YOUNG people throughout Scotland have the opportunity to help influence and shape the future of Scottish sport by applying to become a member of one of the country’s leading sporting programmes.

Over the last two years, 15 young people from across the country have given their time to help shape a better sporting future for Scotland, and applications are now open to find the next group of leaders who will sit on the Young People’s Sport Panel (YPSP).

Led by Sport Scotland, the national agency for sport in Scotland, and supported by Young Scot and The National Lottery, The Young People’s Sport Panel is a national platform created to represent the voice of young people across the country.

For as long as I can remember I have always participated competitively in sport, but since joining the panel at Sport Scotland, I have realised there are other ways to get involved.

Currently in its third two-year cycle, 14 other panel members and I have had the opportunity to influence decision making and drive change to help shape the future of sport in Scotland. As panel members, we’ve had the chance to input on national policy by attending Sport Scotland board meetings and were introduced to the public health and sport minister, Aileen Campbell, at the Scottish Parliament where we had the opportunity to take part in a Q and A session with Ms Campbell, discussing how to raise the profile of sport among young people across the country.

We were also part of Scotland’s homecoming event to mark the success of the Scots on Team GB and Paralympics GB at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016. The panel assisted the athletes as they took part in sporting events with school children from across the country at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre.

As a competitive athlete myself and member of my local athletics club, it’s been an honour to have been selected on the Young People’s Sport Panel. Being able to play such an important role in ensuring the voice of young people is part of the sporting conversation across Scotland has been an amazing experience.

For as long as I can remember I have always participated competitively in sport, but since joining the panel at Sport Scotland, I have realised there are other ways to get involved. Knowing and understanding the impact sport has had on me, and the ways in which it has helped me, has led me to want to pass on these benefits to others.

Since I was selected to be part of the Young People’s Sport Panel, I have been able to put my passion for volunteering into practice, and help ensure the voice of young people is part of the sporting conversation across Scotland.

Knowing and understanding the impact sport has had on me, and the ways in which it has helped me, has led me to want to pass on these benefits to others.

Working alongside 14 other panel members from all over the country, we’ve met some incredible people and have had the chance to work on the things we are passionate about – for me, it has been raising awareness of sport to women and girls.

I particularly loved running a campaign on social media called #unstoppablegirl, inspiring young women to love sport as much as I do. We released videos discussing various topics, and asked young people to respond to us with their experiences in sport, with the aim of trying to show that sport really is for anyone.

Many of the members of the sport panel are still at school, so we know that some girls feel they can’t or don’t want to take part in sport, so we have been trying to show them, and everyone, that sport is amazing and has so many benefits.

We also had the chance to work with girls in schools and develop workshops for a programme called ‘Fit For Girls’ which aims to inspire girls and young women to enjoy sport at school. We shared our experiences of sport at school and had great discussions about what we would like to see in the future.  Girls in the local schools will now take these workshops forward and help make sport more enjoyable and more attractive to other females, which is brilliant.

It was also amazing to be given the opportunity to be part of the Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board to the Scottish Government. I got to attend a meeting with many influential women in sport. It has been such a fantastic experience being a member of the panel, and I encourage anyone to apply.

Recruitment closes tomorrow for the next Young People’s Sport Panel. For more information and to apply visit www.sportscotland.org.uk/sportpanel.

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