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Student volunteering makes SmashUp! a success

A phenomenal success at Abbeyfield School

The SmashUp! programme has been a phenomenal success at Abbeyfield School, in large part to the volunteering of sixth form students, Gemma Howell and Phoebe Tomsett. Both girls have given up their own time to develop the role of SmashUp! champions, which has been so successful, it is now being rolled out across the region as a way of increasing participation numbers.

Given the challenge of promoting SmashUp! in their school, Gemma and Phoebe used their free time to attend tutor groups every Monday morning to promote the club and encourage more pupils to attend, supporting sports leaders to run the session, promoting the club around the school with posters, pictures and stories and setting up a SmashUp! email address at the school so that pupils could send in their suggestions for the next session’s play list. Both girls currently give up at least three hours of their own time each week to support SmashUp!

The girls are now in their second academic year of leading on the SmashUp! programme within their school and have engaged hundreds of young people already in a short period of time. The initial once a week session quickly grew to average numbers of over 30 pupils per week. As a result of this success the sessions now run every lunchtime for a different age group meaning over a 150 pupils per week are engaged and getting physically active - many of these not engaging in other sports and activities. More recently the girls have also taken on a lead role within the Ambassador programme interviewing and recruiting new ambassadors to increase the impact across the school.

The girls are currently taking their A-Levels at school and volunteer their time in addition to this. Therefore, aims for the year are to successfully complete these whilst also growing the sessions to engage more and more young people. Phoebe has now become the lead Sports Enrichment coordinator so supports other young leaders to engage young people and learn and develop. Through the year they will also be giving up their time to support other sports and events as well as delivering in local primary schools.

Neither Gemma nor Phoebe comes from a badminton background and still have had a huge impact on the sport. They have done so through their own commitment and passion to help others experience the benefits of sport and SmashUp! has been the perfect vehicle to help them do this. Their teacher commented that "Phoebe has been a huge asset to the PE department. She embodies the tenacity and motivation a teacher hopes to find in any sports ambassador, giving up many hours per week. I truly believe SmashUp! was a success because of Phoebe. While coaching Gemma to help support SmashUp!, I was impressed with her desire and enjoyment of supporting other students and her new found passion for Badminton. Gemma is committed to SmashUp!. She takes preparation seriously and arrives early for set up and knows this is a direct route for ensuring students become a better players through enjoyment and time to play. I truly believe SmashUp! Is the success that it is at Abbeyfield because of Phoebe and Gemma and they are an asset to the world of Badminton."