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Introducing: the pilot scheme behind the £2m This Girl Can campaign

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Last week’s high profile launch of the This Girl Can campaign will owe any success it achieves to an innovative pilot scheme that has been running in Bury since September 2013.

The I Will If You Will project – delivered by Bury Council with support from local sports providers, community groups, businesses and volunteers – has so far got more than 6,500 women physically active in the town.

It has successfully managed to change women’s attitudes towards sport and physical activity, resulting in positive behavioural change.

The project has so far delivered nearly 25,000 activity sessions, including netball, swimming, jogging, aqua aerobics and piloxing across the borough.

The results are encouraging, especially considering the budget – the council has awarded around £35,000 of funding to local groups to help set up the sessions.

Sport England Director of Sport, Phil Smith, said: “I Will if You Will has helped shape our national ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. It has had a major impact locally and the lessons learned so far have allowed us to better understand how women and girls take part in sport."

The success of the Bury programme means that it will be continued – and expanded – over the next two years.

Plans are to introduce a council-wide approach, bringing together a range of departments, services and agencies to find the best way to bring about the change required to get even more women more active.

The long term goals are to change the culture within Bury to make sport and physical activity the social norm, and contribute to improving health and wellbeing of local residents.

Councillor Jane Lewis, cabinet member for communities and culture said: “Over the last 18 months Bury women and girls have really got on board with I Will if You Will and it’s great to see they’re really feeling the benefits.

“We’ve gathered some great stories from some really inspirational ladies, who’ve managed to take that first step, break down the barriers and realise a more active lifestyle. We’ve been blown away by the journey some of our local ladies have embarked on and what they’ve managed to achieve.

“Continuing the programme for another two years is massively important. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to build on what has already been achieved and carry on working towards a borough where being regularly active is the norm and second nature for Bury women and girls. A fitter, happier, healthier population is what we want to achieve.”

To find out more about how I Will If You Will, click here for the www.iwillifyouwill.co.uk website.

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Last week’s high profile launch of the This Girl Can campaign will owe any success it achieves to an innovative pilot scheme that has been running in Bury since September 2013.
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The I Will If You Will scheme was introduced in September 2013
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