Youngsters in Sunderland are celebrating after securing free gym and swim sessions for children in care in the city.
Children and young people from Change Council, a group representing and supported by Together for Children, have campaigned for more accessible leisure opportunities since last year.
Change Council and Together for Children have now partnered with Everyone Active, the leading leisure provider which operates eight leisure centres in the city on behalf on Sunderland City Council, to offer all children in care the opportunity to exercise free of charge.
In addition, during National Care Leavers Week, which runs from Wednesday 24 to Wednesday 31 October and aims to raise awareness about vulnerable young adults as they enter adult life, a group of young people were given the opportunity to try snow tubing at Sunderland’s Silksworth Sports Complex.
Blaine Richardson, 18, a care leaver and member of Change Council, said: “We’re really pleased that we’ve managed to secure free swim and gym for all looked after children and care leavers in Sunderland. There are great facilities in Sunderland and also having the chance to try snow tubing has been great, because it can help to boost confidence.”
Jill Colbert, Chief Executive at Together for Children, said: “We are always looking at ways we can provide more support for children in care and leaving care. When the young people in Change Council expressed how expensive it was for them to access swimming and gym memberships, we collaborated with Everyone Active to ensure this scheme went ahead.”
Ian Bradgate, area contract manager for Everyone Active, said: “We are determined to get more young people benefitting from being physically active. To do this, it is important that we make our facilities as accessible as possible. Everyone Active has brilliant leisure centers located all across the city, and through our work with Together for Children we are making sure that more young people are able to enjoy them.”
Councillor Louise Farthing, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services in Sunderland, said: “It’s been great to see the Change Council’s hard work over the last 12 months pay off. I hope that they will make the most out of these passes as they continue to campaign for children in care in Sunderland.”
The free swimming will be accessible during public swimming times and accompanying carers will also be allowed free entry. Free gym sessions will be available to over 11s.