10 May 2022
The project is designed for young people between the ages of 11 - 16 and will give participants the opportunity to learn new skills, develop mobility, learn how to Weight lift and safely perform a range of Strength and Conditioning exercises.
The focus is on enjoyment, working with others, making new friends, learning how to lift and building strength. Developing an understanding the benefits that strength and a healthy lifestyle can have on long-term physical and mental health.
As the National Governing Body for Weightlifting in Wales, Weightlifting Wales wants to make sure that young people have opportunities to learn from skilled coaches in safe and inclusive environments.
The Raise the Bar project will be delivered by the following Weightlifting Wales Clubs / academies: -
- Coleg Sir Gar (Llanelli) –
- Evofit (Crosshands)
- Bangor University (Bangor)
- Strength Academy Wales (Haverfordwest)
- Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting & Fitness Club (Holyhead)
- SA1 Weightlifting (Swansea)
- Dragon Athletic (Cardiff)
As part of the strategy of focusing on community health and wellbeing Weightlifting Wales set out the following overarching outcomes for the project:
- Increase the number and quality of weightlifting opportunities for 12-16-year-olds from diverse backgrounds
- Develop the health and wellbeing of young people in local areas.
- Educating young people about the long-term Physical, Psychological and Social health benefits of Strength Training.
- Increasing young people’s confidence post-Covid through social interactions, working with others and making new friends at the sessions.
- Reducing loneliness and isolation by engaging through Raise the Bar Wales.
- Inclusion of all abilities.
- Raising awareness of the sport of Weightlifting and where young people participate.
- Collaboration with local schools and other organisations.
The project had a fantastic response from the local communities with all the 6-week introduction courses being fully subscribed across all participating academies which resulted in over 320 young people taking part. The academies have been overwhelmed with the response and are excited to see so many young people engaging in strength training in a friendly group environment. Academy owners Leigh Bevan and Mathew Williams tell us the impact the project has had on their gyms in South Wales,
“Raise the Bar has been a game-changer for our academy, each instalment has seen an increase in participation. We have had the pleasure to coach young people from all walks of life, whether it’s for their GCSE grading, or all different sporting and non-sporting backgrounds. Over each 6 week period, we have seen so much change in the individuals, from an increase in posture, confidence, making new friends and of course the ability to lift weights correctly and safely. A big group have chosen to stay on and continue their development through the sport of weightlifting.”
- Leigh Bevan, SA1 Weightlifting Academy
“The Raise the Bar program has generated an extremely high amount of interest in weightlifting from children in the local community. It’s given lots of children the opportunity try out weightlifting free of charge over a 6 week period.
The program run at our club has been very successful and enjoyable for both participants and coaches. My coaches have gained valuable coaching experience through the process and the participants have received valuable coaching to learn the basics of weightlifting. The program has so far generated an extra 12 junior members who have continued to participate after completing the program.
It’s great to see juniors having the opportunity to try something new, having fun and learning a new sport. We are looking forward to delivering further programs and increasing participation in weightlifting for this age group.”
- Mathew Williams, Evolution Health & Fitness Centre Ltd
Following each 6-week course, the participants were asked to fill out a survey on their experience with the project and this is what they had to say:
Question: Please share your experience of the Raise the Bar Wales project
“I thought it was an absolute delight to take part in this course. I have learnt so much new techniques and even tried weight I thought I would never be able to use on a bar. Overall, this course is absolutely fantastic for people who want to learn about weightlifting but not only that, the experience of it too.”
- Female, 15
“Really enjoyed the exercise and meeting other teenagers. Coaches we’re really good and fun.”
- Male, 14
“I think this is a great opportunity and I am enjoying weightlifting very much and I am very thankful to the coaches for using their time to coach us and I am also very dedicated to taking my weightlifting career to a higher level like competing in competitions.”
- Male, 12
“I have already seen improvements in myself, I’ve began to find my confidence again and it’s made me happier.”
- Female, 14
Question: Will you continue to take part and why?
“I enjoy weightlifting very much and would love to learn more and maybe compete in some competitions.” - Male, 12
“Because I want to be stronger and see my friends more.” - Male, 12
“Enjoy lifting and improving strength.” - Female, 15
“Good for physical wellbeing.” - Male, 13
“I would love to continue because I can’t wait to learn more from the coaches and to grow even more in the activity.” - Female, 12
MOVING FORWARD WITH RAISE THE BAR WALES
The response from Raise the Bar Wales has exceeded expectations and has had an invaluable impact on young people in local communities. Weightlifting is a skill that Weightlifting Wales believe is for everyone to learn and adopt as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Raise the Bar Wales is an invaluable opportunity for young people to learn these skills at an early age that will stay with them throughout their lives, and many may go on to take it up again later in life. The abundance of evidence that highlights the positive impact strength training has on young people’s confidence, and physical and mental well-being is the reason the project is continuing to run.
Strategy and Development Manager, Simon Roach is keen to secure more funding for the project and shared his thoughts on the impact the project has made on Weightlifting Wales,
“Our academy centres have organised numerous 6-week programmes, all of which have been fully subscribed. The interest in the programme has been overwhelming and we aim to secure further sources of funding to continue this very successful project.
Over the previous few months, hundreds of children have taken part in Weightlifting and strength activities, with many gaining the social and well-being benefits from this free programme.
Following on from the raise the bar programme, many young people have continued to take part in Weightlifting, which is having a true legacy effect on the Welsh pathway.
Before Winter of Wellbeing funding, there was a very low amount of u15 athletes in the pathway, we now have many academy centres with their groups of u15’s training regularly, some of which have already enjoyed competing at local informal academy competitions.”
- Simon Roach, Weightlifting Wales Strategy and Development Manager
Thank you to all the participating academies for their continued support and delivery of the project, and thank you to the Welsh government for the Winter of Wellbeing support that helped the project develop into a reality.