Toni Gets Truly Active

One hundred S3 girls from secondary schools across the City recently came together at Castlebrae High School to attend the Council’s second ‘Girls Day Out’ Conference. Disengaged in sport or physical activity, they took part in six workshops and learnt about the power of sport, met inspiring role-models and had fun!

Returning this year was Toni Niven S5 from Craigroyston Community High School. Toni attended last year as a participant and came along this year to support younger pupils and share her story in the opening speech.

By her own admission, just a year ago she was not fully participating in school sport, or really enjoying school and didn’t always feel part of the school community. She gained so much from the activities and friendships formed at the Conference; she returned to school after the event determined to do more herself and encourage other girls to get involved in extra-curricular clubs, even helping to establish a ‘girls-only’ fitness club.

toni leading an exercise class in sports wear

She spoke with passion about last year’s conference and what she had gained. ‘I realised if I could go to an event with lots of strangers and get up on a trampoline in front of everyone then I could do more. I learned that even though it was daunting, I could not only try something new but be good at it and even enjoy it. My friend and I realised we had found something we could get involved in at school. We had enjoyed the day so much we were determined to get our own girls-only club at school’.

As Toni proudly recalls, ‘I started to join in clubs myself and helped our senior Sports Committee. When we got the chance to trial a girls-only fitness club after school I helped to promote it and encourage girls to give it a go. We started small with only one or two girls coming along but one year on we now have a busy after school fitness club, a very popular girls football club, and more and more girls attending all the other lunch clubs every week’.

‘I know I am a role model for the younger pupils and that feels great’.

toni role model

‘I am more confident, happy, focused in class and engaged in school generally. I know I am a role model for the younger pupils and that feels great’.

Her keynote message to the girls was simple, ‘Grasp this opportunity. Make new friends. Try new stuff and let it make a difference’.

two students writing with markers on paper on a wall

Footnote: The actual percentage of girls taking part in Active Schools programmes throughout Edinburgh is 48% - the highest gender balance ratio of any city in the country. However, the ‘Girls Day Out’ initiative organised and run by our Active School Co-ordinators recognises a very specific challenge with some teenage girls.

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