BLOG: We want the legacy of the event to last much longer than just nine days
As the world’s best gymnasts compete at the World Gymnastics Championships, Matt Ashton, Director of Public Health for Liverpool, reflects on what it means for the city and the legacy it could leave behind…
The World Gymnastics Championships 2022 is going to be a fantastic event for Liverpool, but we want the legacy of the event to last much longer than just nine days.
It’ll be great to see world class athletes competing on our doorstep, but I am equally hopeful of seeing how the event can inspire the next generation, and gives all of us some extra motivation to be bit more active.
Having the championships in Liverpool has real potential for raising the aspirations of young people in the city and increasing participation in not only gymnastics, but a whole raft of sporting and physical activities.
Not everyone can be an international gymnast, but we could all probably be a bit more active – and that includes me.
We know that taking part in physical activity and sport, whether it’s as a participant, or as volunteer, has massive benefits for both your physical and mental health.
Activity simply makes you feel good.
Short terms benefits include having more energy, managing your weight, sleeping better and feeling less stressed, while long term benefits reduce the risk of serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or osteoporosis from developing.
Beyond the ticketed events there will also be a free daily fan zone open to everyone, providing have-a-go activities – including gymnastics, tai chi, drumming, street theatre and arts and crafts with a soundtrack courtesy of Liverpool International Music Festival Academy artists.
I’m really looking forward to sharing this experience with my family and can’t wait to see the joy in my youngest daughter’s face while she tries to replicate the routines she sees – and although I’m feeling more energized to get active, rest assured I won’t be trying tuck jumps or forward rolls!
It’s been great to see how different areas of the council are using the event to benefit different communities, young and old across the city, delivering lasting benefits.
The Physical Activity and Sport (PAS) Development Team have concentrated their approach around health and wellbeing and physical activity targets for children aged up to 11 and to individuals living with dementia, working alongside key city partners.
At least 50 Liverpool schools will receive gymnastics coaching and 10 will also receive funding towards improving gymnastics equipment and work with British Gymnastics for a year under their partner school scheme.
We’re looking at how we can develop additional access to gymnastics at Lifestyles Everton Park, Lifestyles Park Road, Lifestyles Cardinal Heenan and Lifestyles Ellergreen, with the aim of ensuring that more young people from across all of our communities are encouraged to participate.
The team has also worked with the council’s Adult Services to embed a programme called ‘Love to Move’ into Dementia Hubs and Sheltered Accommodation – 11 staff have already qualified as instructors and are delivering weekly activity sessions in five care homes.
Funding has also been secured from Volunteer it Yourself (VIY) and Persimmon Homes to support two community projects which combines volunteering and DIY by challenging young people aged 14-24 to learn trade skills. The projects are taking place at the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club and Tiber Sports Centre and include renovations and improvements to these facilities. The team are working with Notre Dame Catholic College, Belvedere Academy and St Hilda’s to engage students around apprenticeship opportunities.
It’s hoped that all of these activities will ensure there is a legacy that will endure way beyond the close of the event on 6 November.
So, if you get the opportunity, get involved in these wider activities, and enjoy the championship.
The World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022 is an Olympic qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Games and will be one of the largest international sporting events ever to be held in the city. Over 400 gymnasts from 74 countries are competing in the global event at the M&S Bank Arena, which will take place from 29 October to 6 November 2022.