Want to try orienteering, athletics or triathlon?
City of Derry Spartans AC has partnered with Athletics NI, Northwest Orienteering Club and North West Triathlon Club to launch an innovative program to bring local kids back to the sport this year.
The OATS Project – Stars of Orienteering, Track and Field and Triathlon is an exciting program aimed at introducing young people to a new sport or bringing them back to sport after the restrictions of the pandemic.
The program is launched this Sunday, May 23 and is funded by Sport NI as part of the Project Re-Boot / Build Back Better initiative. It will take place over the next four weeks in St. Columb’s Park as part of what is expected to be the first of four such seasonal events.
Project manager Bridgeen Byrne, City of Derry Spartans AC, explains that the event will host up to 60 local children, ages 11-18, with a focus on fun.
“We have four programs – spring, summer, fall, winter – and the first one is this Sunday,” she said. “It will be four consecutive Sundays where three groups of 20 children will alternate between the three orienteering sports, athletic. And triathlon. They will be introduced to these sports in a fun environment where they can meet different people from other schools.
“The emphasis is on having fun and having fun, coming back outside, getting active and meeting new people. It will be skill-based throughout, from the three sports to communication, working together as a team and even eating healthy.
The OATS project has received support from Derry City & Strabane District Council, a number of schools in the city on both sides of the community, the British Orienteering Federation and Athletics Northern Ireland.
There will be qualified coaches in each sport as well as A-level PE students from local schools who have volunteered to help the coaches roll out the program.
Getting back outside after a frustrating year for everyone is the goal of the project, with Bridgeen really hoping to give the children in the area a helping hand after a difficult 12 months.
“Go out for that endorphin release, get some fresh air and go out with nature. These are all ways we can improve our well-being to rejuvenate, ”she added.
“We are very excited to make this project a reality. It has grown from a tiny seed to this huge event that will take the whole year with spring, summer, fall and winter programs.
“Some young people haven’t had the opportunities they usually would have in the past year – they haven’t been able to do the things they could do or meet the people they might meet in the past. and around the school. It gives them the opportunity to go out and do different things and meet different people and then they could be friends for life.
This Sunday will be the first steps of the OATS project but Byrne hopes that different organizations can continue to work together beyond this year, with the physical and mental well-being of young people being the most important aspect of all.
“It’s a one-year project, but we would like to develop it beyond that,” she admitted.
“It encourages clubs to work together. You are learning all the time, you are concentrating, you are outside in the environment. This is really good and it will make the young people a lot more aware of their surroundings, when they are outside, especially with orienteering, because you will look a lot more at nature and take care of your space. All the spaces around Derry are beautiful now and we will be using different spaces around the city throughout the year.
“In the past two years we’ve run two wellness programs, and during the lockdown we worked with Action Mental Health, who ran three programs for us. Due to the lockdown, we were concerned about how young people were feeling and therefore we had programs for three different age groups.
“We always try to look after the well-being of young people and get them to go outside and encourage them to play sports. Once you get involved in sports everything else will work out better – it will help you academically, it will help family life, and it will help you when you are outside to meet people.
Anyone interested in participating this Sunday is kindly requested to contact Bridgeen on 07513854091 or by e-mail at [email protected]