ukactive and Nike launch blueprint for unlocking nation’s school sport facilities outside of school hours.

ukactive and Nike

The blueprint is based on the Open Doors programme, which was designed with Nike and forms part of ukactive’s Schools As Community Hubs policy.

It represents a universal model for unlocking the sports facilities on the doorstep of every community, providing essential support for children and young people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing – particularly for those from low-income households.

The document is a practical resource aimed at schools, local authorities, activity delivery partners and funding organisations, offering best-in-class guidance from the Open Doors programme, which has proved successful in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

It introduces the essential components of the Open Doors model and provides advice on mentoring and coaching; food provision; and funding models, as well as testimony from young people and parents.

Publication of the blueprint comes as ukactive and Nike finalise preparations for this summer’s Open Doors programme across the four cities.

Last year, the organisations agreed a three-year partnership to expand the model beyond London and Birmingham, helping to engage more underserved children and young people in sport and physical activity over the holidays.

The programme is being championed by Nike athlete and Iron Man, John McAvoy, and ukactive hopes it will help to change existing policies for out-of-school activity provision.

The power of the sustainable model lies in its place-based approach, partnering local providers of sport and physical activity with safe and familiar community facilities outside of the school day, harnessing both public and private funding – without putting any additional burden on schools or staff.

Research by ukactive’s Research Institute shows that children and young people suffer a loss in cardiorespiratory fitness levels over the summer holidays of up to 74% – with those from lower socio-economic groups suffering a drop-in fitness around 18 times faster than their more affluent peers.

John McAvoy, Nike athlete and Iron Man, said: “We are delighted to launch the Open Doors Blueprint resource. This has been produced off the back of successful delivery of the Open Doors programme which has given us some key learnings that we want to share across the sectors to help even more schools open during out of school hours to provide positive experiences for young people.

“Every child has the right to be able to access sport and physical activity and the Open Doors Blueprint will help to make this a reality.”

Dan Burrows, Nike’s Senior Director of Social & Community Impact, EMEA, said: “At Nike, we believe that sport creates change and that an active lifestyle helps all kids to see their full potential. This is why play is so important to us, because an active next generation means a better and more equitable future for all. 

“It’s been a year since we partnered with ukactive to support the Open Doors initiative, which drives greater access to play and sport for children across the UK. In that time the programme expanded in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester. 

“This year we are committed to building on this success further with the Open Doors Blueprint resource, which will enable schools and community organisations to provide more inclusive spaces for play and remove the barriers that can prevent children from accessing sport.”

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “The Open Doors Blueprint is a valuable resource for anyone who cares passionately about giving every child and young person the opportunity to lead an active, happy life outside of school hours.

“School playing fields, halls and courts make up 39% of community sport facilities in England but are usually locked away during school holidays, meaning millions of young people are deprived of opportunities to stay active in a safe and supportive environment.

“Through Open Doors we can ensure that children, young people and families are empowered to lead active lives and also feel more connected with local sport and leisure providers.

“With the right support from central and local government, combined with the expertise and passion of activity providers, we can drive the growth of this model throughout the nation.”

To read or download the Open Doors Blueprint, click below.