Eilidh Child displays her support of safeguarding children in sport

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SOME of Scotland’s top athletes have thrown their backing behind a major rebranding of the country’s leading children’s sport support service.

Eilidh Child, who won silver in the 400m hurdles at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, and former Scotland and British Lions rugby international Scott Hastings have spoken out about their support of the rebranding of Child Protection in Sport.

The service, run in partnership by CHILDREN 1st and sportscotland, is changing its name to Safeguarding in Sport – to reflect the importance of keeping youngsters supported and safe when they take part in sporting activities.

The rebrand has been designed to provide sports governing bodies, leisure departments, and clubs – and in particular coaches and leaders – with additional information and advice about the overall welfare of children, rather than just encouraging the reporting of suspected abuse.

While visiting Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh with children from Abbeyhill Primary School, Eilidh vaulted over a series of hurdles – each representing a different challenge that young people taking part in sport can face, including bullying, abuse, neglect, fear and pressure.

She said: “It’s my job to get over the hurdles on the track. But for some young people the hurdles in their life can seem impossible to clear.

“It’s important for all children taking part in sport to know they can ask for help, and for adults to be able to respond appropriately. Safeguarding in Sport can give volunteers and staff the confidence to deal with these kinds of issues.”

Scott Hastings said: “The safety and wellbeing of children in Scotland who are participating in sport is of the utmost importance.

“However, it is equally essential to provide sports coaches and volunteers with the right information that will allow them to ensure children are safeguarded during their sporting activities. Many of these people already do a fantastic job when it comes to child protection, but the fact they will also be able draw upon the expertise of Safeguarding in Sport to support them in their sporting work is great news.

“Young people need to be able to enjoy sport in a positive environment and know that they can turn to their coaches if they have any concerns or worries.

“I hope that every sports club or organisation that works with children in Scotland will use the resources provided by Safeguarding in Sport and make sure that young people continue to enjoy the benefits that sport provides.”

The new Safeguarding in Sport service will continue to offer a high standard of training and advice about keeping youngsters safe during their sporting activities, as well as providing resources that enable sports organisations to develop self-esteem, confidence, leadership, and teamwork among children.

Anne Houston, chief executive of CHILDREN 1ST, said: “We have a vision of children growing up safe, secure and happy. Safeguarding in Sport works with organisations to try and make this vision a reality.

“Originally this service was set up to ensure that organisations understood their child protection duties. Over the years the sporting community has worked hard to put children’s welfare at the heart of everything they do. ‘Safeguarding’ is more than just ‘protecting’ – it’s much more positive and preventative. The change in name to ‘Safeguarding in Sport’ reflects this.”

Safeguarding in Sport will work in partnership with Scottish governing bodies of sport and local authorities and leisure trusts to implement child protection measures and highlight good practice. As well as resources and training the service also offers case advice on specific child protection concerns.

Scottish Minister for Public Health and Sport Shona Robison said: “With the baton being handed to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games it’s vital that the children and young people of Scotland are fully able to participate in sport in a safe and welcoming environment and enjoy the benefits it can bring.

“That is why I welcome the ongoing partnership between CHILDREN 1st and sportscotland in supporting sports organisations in their vitally important work of safeguarding our children.”

Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “We are dedicated to giving children every opportunity to engage with sport, and we want to ensure that participation is a positive experience.

“The support provided by Safeguarding in Sport is vital in ensuring that every child taking part in sport is able to do so in a safe environment; which allows them to take advantage of the benefits that sport can offer.”

More information can be found at www.safeguardinginsport.org.uk

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