Youngsters in Sunderland are celebrating after securing free gym and swim sessions for children in care in the city.
Change Council, a group of young people representing those in care, supported by Together for Children, have campaigned for more accessible leisure opportunities since last year.
They have now partnered with Everyone Active, which operates eight leisure centres in the city on behalf of Sunderland City Council, to offer all children in care the opportunity to exercise free of charge.
A group of 30 young people were recently given the opportunity to try snow tubing at Sunderland’s Silksworth Sports Complex.
Blaine Richardson, 18, a care leaver and member of Change Council, said: “We’re really pleased that we’ve managed to secure free swim and gym for all looked after children and care leavers in Sunderland.
“There are great facilities in Sunderland and also having the chance to try snow tubing has been great, because it can help to boost confidence.”
There are great facilities in SunderlandBlaine Richardson
Jill Colbert, Chief Executive at Together for Children, said: “We are always looking at ways we can provide more support for children in care and leaving care.
“When the young people in Change Council expressed how expensive it was for them to access swimming and gym memberships, we collaborated with Everyone Active to ensure this scheme went ahead.”
Ian Bradgate, area contract manager for Everyone Active, said: “We are determined to get more young people benefitting from being physically active.
“To do this, it is important that we make our facilities as accessible as possible. Everyone Active has brilliant leisure centres located all across the city, and through our work with Together for Children we are making sure that more young people are able to enjoy them.”
Coun Louise Farthing, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services in Sunderland, said: “It’s been great to see the Change Council’s hard work over the last 12 months pay off.
“I hope that they will make the most out of these passes as they continue to campaign for children in care in Sunderland.”
The free swimming will be accessible during public swimming times and accompanying carers will also be allowed free entry. Free gym sessions will be available to over 11s.