Sport NZ has today launched #itsmymove - a campaign to help young women get and stay active their way. It has been developed to address declining physical activity levels in teenage girls.
Research undertaken by Sport NZ shows that by the age of 16, there is a 17% gap between male and female participation in sport and recreation in Aotearoa and by 17, this increases to 28%*.
While the research also shows that 90% of young women want to be active and 96% of young women understand why physical activity is important for them, there are clear contributing factors to the decline in participation. These include body image, judgement, time pressures, motivation and loss of fun.
Sport New Zealand Chief Executive, Raelene Castle, says the aim of the campaign is to create awareness around the reasons why many young women stop participating in structured sport and recreation and support them in finding activities they love to do.
“We need to take the time to understand what young women want when it comes to participating in physical activity. We need to create environments in which they can thrive, and encourage, motivate and enable them to move in whatever way works for them.
“`It’s My Move’ is focused on helping young women feel confident, be part of the conversation and empowered to participate on their terms.”
Active NZ research shows young women increasingly opt out of formal sporting environments as they grow older. By age 17, the top three activities young women undertake are running, workouts and walking.
The impact of Covid-19 has also exacerbated participation challenges for young women, with the ongoing disruption to recreation and sporting activities and long periods of remote learning, particularly in Tamaki Makaurau.
Professor Holly Thorpe, from the School of Health at the University of Waikato, says during the pandemic, young women have taken to modifying where and how they participate.
“Kicking a soccer ball around in the backyard with siblings, learning to skateboard on the footpath, practicing TikTok dance routines and doing an online workout with friends are all great alternatives. Keeping moving for pleasure, learning, self-expression, connection with peers and physical fitness generally are more important than ever in our young women’s lives.”
The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the reasons for the participation gap with parents and providers and equip them with strategies to better support female rangatahi.
“Many providers are aware of this and are already on the journey to addressing the factors that contribute to the decline in participation, but it’s time to take the conversation further.
“It is crucial that we recognise the value of sport and recreation in terms of physical and mental health and change the narrative around what type of activities count. All types of movement have value. It’s not just about competing,” says Raelene Castle.
The campaign launch is a key milestone in the ongoing work by Sport New Zealand to support the Government’s Strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation.
#itsmymove is being supported by a number of leading sporting figures, well-known parents and inspirational young women including Jess Quinn, Arizona Leger, Ella Williams, Irene Van Dyk MNZM, Wendy Petrie and April Ieremia who will be involved in the campaign over the coming months.
Campaign Ambassador Jess Quinn said, “As someone who struggled to find my way in the world of organised sport growing up and having dealt with body confidence issues myself, this campaign connected with me on a number of levels. It is so important to support young women and girls through this critical time in their life and empower them to engage with sport and recreation on their own terms.”
Campaign Ambassador Irene Van Dyk, MNZM, Former New Zealand Silver Fern and Mum added, “Physical activity is essential to holistic mental and physical wellbeing and you don’t have to be a gold medalist or a Silver Fern to feel the benefits. We need to encourage our daughters to move in any way that works for them. We know that in some cases, formal structured sporting environments can turn young women away because they are overly competitive. Winning is great, but as parents and as sporting professionals we need to recognise this and ensure that fun, friendship and social connection is at the core.”
More information can be found at www.itsmymove.org.nz where advice, tips and guidance to help encourage young women to get and remain active can be found, along with access to the research, case studies and campaign materials.
For media enquiries and more information please contact:
Senior Consultant, MSL New Zealand on behalf of Sport New Zealand
Beccy.Churchill@MSLgroup.com / +64 20 41962752
Group Media Manager, Sport New Zealand
Michelle.Pickles@sportnz.org.nz / +64 21 833 244
Notes to editors
* Reference: Sport NZ (September 2021). Young Women Profile. young-women-profile-2021_v22.pdf (sportnz.org.nz)
Sport New Zealand Women & Girls - Key Research Findings
- Males spend more time being active, especially from age 16. There is a 17% gap at age 16. By age 17 this has increased to 28 percent.
- Girls are more likely to cite judgment, lack of confidence and fear of failure as barriers to increasing participation.
- Young women’s confidence decreases during their school years. Agreement with the statement ‘I feel confident to take part’ declines from 76% at age 12 to 53% at age 17.
- Young women feel that judgment is prevalent in every facet of their lives. Three in four young women are concerned about how they look every day.
- 55% feel judged on their appearance by others when they go out. 42% feel judged when they are on the street. 52% feel judged on social media.
More information on the #itsmymove campaign can be found on www.itsmymove.org.nz