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Three teenage gymnasts leap into action to get more girls active

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Volunteers play a vital role in sport, from grassroots clubs to elite athletes. That’s why Sport Wales is marking Volunteers Week (June 1 to June 7), by celebrating the brilliant people making a difference in their communities. 

Olivia Brunt (15), Carys Carpenter (18) and Nia James (19) of Valley’s Gymnastics Academy volunteered for StreetGamesUs Girls project, which aims to give young women aged 13-19 in underserved communities the opportunity to get active. 

Through a combination of funding from StreetGames and Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund, they have been able to offer sporting activities to young girls in their community.

Their weekly sessions have been successfully running for over a year and have been extremely popular with girls in their area, with some sessions seeing as many as 40 girls in attendance. 

They knew it was really important that the sessions reflected what the participants wanted to do – which seems to be, try a bit of everything!

Carys explained: “We ask the participants what activities they would like to do during our sessions as we know it’s important that the girls have ownership and do activities they like. We do activities such as golf, football, netball, gymnastics, dance, crafts, and free running - anything really.

"We bring people in to deliver and coach sessions where we don’t have the expertise.”

All three girls are ex-competitive gymnasts from the club, who now spend their free time running the weekly Us Girls sessions, alongside volunteer coaching.

Nia said: “Being a volunteer has always been part of my life and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, as I’m giving back to people without material reward, just the reward of seeing individuals thrive in a sport they enjoy doing.”

Carys added: “I love volunteering since it’s great to watch many young girls progress in sport, but also watch their confidence grow. 

“As a volunteer I ensure that I’m kind and understanding, to make sure everyone feels as though they can trust me.”

In Sport Wales’ School Sport Survey, girls have consistently reported lower sport participation in comparison to their male peers. The latest survey found that 43% of boys took part in organised sport outside of the curriculum three or more times a week compared to 36% of girls. Reducing this inequality is a vital part of the project. 

Olivia said: “I think it’s extremely important to get young girls involved in physical activities because it gives them a chance to grow and learn new skills that they might need later in life. 

"It also gives them a chance to make new friends and form connections that they might have never felt able to do before.”

Carys agreed, saying: “Sport allows young girls to keep active whilst enjoying themselves and making friends. Being in sport opens so many fun opportunities and helps with stress and mental health.”

Olivia, Nia and Carys by the Valleys Gymnastics Sign
Olivia Brunt, Nia James and Carys Carpenter


Though they all loved participating in gymnastics themselves at a younger age, being able to give other girls the same experience has been equally fulfilling for them. 

Nia said: “Seeing the girls that attend our Valleys Girls sessions grow, make friends and develop their physical fitness has been a rewarding experience.

Olivia added: “Volunteering means a lot to me as it gives me a chance to help others, especially in this project as the aim is to make the girls comfortable and feel inspired. 

“Volunteering has given me many opportunities that I wouldn’t have even thought about doing before I started.

“It has so many benefits - not only for you, but for the people you are helping as well.”

All three girls agreed that for anyone considering volunteering, their advice is just to go for it! They have inspired others from their club to participate in the project this year and hope that they can inspire you to spare some time for your club, too!

Check out our resources for volunteers here!

Click here to find out more about the Us Girls project, and how you can tailor your sessions for young girls.

Thanks to players of The National Lottery, more than £30 million a week goes to good causes around the UK through initiatives like StreetGames and Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund.

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