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THE RIGHT SUPPORT: The new project at Beacon Academy, along with the introduction of the APTUS sports bra, aims to change female participation in sport

A new project being trialled at Beacon Academy is set to boost female student’s participation in sport by raising awareness of breast health issues, says Michelle Wood.

Beacon Academy has partnered with the UK’s largest school wear supplier, Banner Ltd, to launch a new project that aims to boost female students’ participation in sports and to raise awareness of the importance of breast health.

Representatives of the schoolwear and sportswear supplier visited the school to deliver two days of workshops for female students focusing on breast health education and introducing the APTUS sports bra, a new eco product developed specifically for the education market.

Beacon Academy is the first school to take part in the workshops and will be rolling the information out to the whole school through PE lessons. Students are now able to purchase the sports bra through their schoolwear provider as an optional addition to the school’s PE kit list.

The project reflects Beacon Academy’s ongoing commitment to promoting participation in sports for all and supporting students to develop a love of physical activity for life.

PE teacher Miss Dannii Hilder, was inspired to initiate the partnership when she recognised the need to address some of the taboos around talking about breast health, and the barriers girls can face when taking part in sports.

Miss Hilder said: “It is a known fact that at secondary school age, girls’ participation in physical activity is not as high as it is for boys.

“Research conducted by Sport England for “This Girl Can” has identified that barriers include feeling self-conscious about becoming sweaty or worrying about wearing tight clothing and the movement of their body, to name a few. In their findings, they discovered that only 36% of 11-18-year-olds wear a sports bra for PE, and many are unaware of the consequences of not wearing one.

Creating a safe space to talk about breast health, sports bras and sports participation is vital to ensure that girls feel comfortable and confident when participating in physical activity. This project with Banner has been ten months in the making and I could not be more thrilled that our students have the opportunity to attend the workshops and purchase the APTUS Sports Bra at a special discounted rate through the school’s uniform supplier. Women and girls should be proud, confident and happy to participate in physical activity and if we can help to break down some of those barriers then I am confident we are setting them up for future success.”

To develop the APTUS Sports Bra, the design team at Banner worked closely with biomechanics field leader and Head of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth, Professor Joanna Wakefield Scurr. In addition to offering the right support, the APTUS Sports Bra is the first eco reversible bra of its kind and is also made from recycled materials: each bra saves 1.5 plastic bottles from landfill.

Banner commented: “The core inspiration behind the APTUS Sports Bra is to encourage and support girls in school sport. From in-depth research into breast health, it’s evident that sports bras should be an essential part of a girl’s P.E kit. In response, we have created the first sustainable, fully reversible sports bra designed exclusively for female students.

And it’s all in the name of giving girls the support and confidence to enjoy sport at school.

We’ve chosen to work with Beacon Academy because they share our passion for supporting students and we know that includes encouraging confidence in all areas of education. We’re excited to come and share our knowledge behind the importance of wearing a sports bra and what the right support can do for building confidence in girls.”

Head of PE at Beacon Academy, Mrs Karen Carney, said, “Whilst we are proud to have already seen a boost in engagement through the opportunities we offer female students to participate, compete and excel in a wide range of sports and physical activities at Beacon Academy, the impact this will have on the girls will be amazing. It is extremely important to break down the barriers which hold girls back from taking part in sport – this initiative couldn’t have been possible without the vision and planning from Miss Hilder, who has worked with Banner to make her vision a reality.”

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