UK Active and Nike’s Open Doors school holiday program aims to keep children active and free from food poverty


By Frances Marcellin Jul 20, 2022

Open Doors is underway for 2022, having started with a pilot program in 2020 and expanded to four cities last year / Active in UK

UK Active and Nike launched the 2022 Open house program. The program offers children and young people the opportunity to connect, be active, eat well and have fun at twelve selected schools in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool during the summer holidays. The Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Rio Ferdinand Foundation, Tanzii TV, Aspire and Bloomsbury Football are supporting the project as delivery partners.

The motivation behind Open Doors is to ensure children stay active, healthy and engaged when they are not in school – UK Active research showed that children’s cardiorespiratory levels drop dramatically during the holidays.

The Open Doors scheme made its successful debut in 2020 (through a collaboration with the Greater London Authority and the West Midlands Combined Authority in Birmingham) and, despite the pandemic, it has expanded to Manchester and Liverpool in 2021 in ten schools in the city.

Schools make up around 39% of community sports facilities in England, but they are usually closed and unused during the six-week holiday. On average, children live within 2.4 miles of the school, which includes recreational and kitchen facilities that the community can benefit from if made accessible.

England’s Last Sport Active Living Survey shows that children (as well as adults) are doing less activity than before the pandemic. With declining fitness levels and 2.5 million food-insecure children across the country – more than 600,000 live in London – there is good reason to open schools for the benefit of children and young people outside school hours.

“Open Doors will give hundreds of children and young people the opportunity to get sport and physical activity this summer, as well as provide nutritious food,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active. “Supporting the physical and mental health of our youngest citizens must be at the heart of the government’s ambitions to level and reduce health inequalities.

“We must not accept holiday hunger and physical inactivity as the reality for children growing up in the UK today, so we call on central and local government to help realize the potential of the Open Doors model to support millions more children.”

In June, Nike and UK Active launched the Plan of the open doors – part of UK Active’s Schools As Community Hubs policy – which is a guide for schools and stakeholders, based on lessons learned and results from the previous two years, which will help expand Open Doors into other cities and regions of the United Kingdom. UK Active aims to expand the scheme to around 100 schools by 2023.

Open Doors is supported by a range of sports clubs and charities, as well as individuals such as Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of UK Active, rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and Nike athlete John McAvoy. McAvoy has become an inspirational role model for young people, especially since the release of his book Redemption in 2016. While serving a double life sentence for armed robbery, he broke three world records and eight British rowing records in solitary confinement and is now a Nike athlete and Ironman triathlete, engaged help young people improve their lives.

“Tragically, we know that many children and young people face really difficult summer vacations, without even basic access to food or a safe place to play and be active with others,” the athlete said. Nike John McAvoy.

“By unlocking school sports facilities through Open Doors, we can have such a positive impact on children and young people, bringing them happiness, confidence and friendship in what could otherwise be a very lonely time.

“We want to show every community the power of sport and physical activity to enrich the life of every child and young person, regardless of their background.”

Key findings from 2021 showed that 35% of children in the program were generally inactive – normally doing less than 30 minutes of daily physical activity; 90% of children and young people made new friends; and 63% said they were looking forward to going back to school after the holidays.

The Portes Ouvertes program provides support for children and young people in schools during the summer holidays / Active in UK

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