A new study examining the value of positive sporting role models and improved access to sporting activities can benefit children’s mental and physical wellbeing has been published. The report, entitled ‘Exploring the power of positive sporting role models in relation to the wellbeing of young people: The case of The Mintridge Foundation’, highlights how participation in sport can improve the confidence, wellbeing and overall development of children and young adults in the UK.

The University of Loughborough-based study was completed in partnership with The Mintridge Foundation, a leading charity dedicated to enhancing life skills in young people through sport and positive role models,  surveying twelve participants, including past mentees, teachers and Mintridge Ambassadors, the research focuses on four core themes to inform its full findings.

From replacing pressure with fun; breaking down barriers and challenging sporting stereotypes; levelling the playing field by broadening horizons, to enhancing core transferable life skills, the research highlights how skills learnt from sporting environments can be transferred to wider aspects of life, thus showing the long-term, positive impact of the Mintridge programmes.

Maya Henshaw, who carried out the undergraduate dissertation, commented on the outcomes of her research, saying:

“Sport has always been a big part of my life and I am a firm believer that it can be used as a tool for societal change; especially amongst young people. From giving young offenders positive coping methods to tackling childhood obesity and building resilience and mental wellbeing through participation, there’s a clear link between positive experiences of sports and improved mental and physical wellbeing.

“Whilst my findings clearly demonstrate the impact of the Mintridge Foundation’s programmes, there are definite challenges in relation to physical activity being absent from national health policy reports and a lack of government funding. It’s my goal to conduct future research to continue to evaluate the role of charities in promoting active participation in sport, especially at grassroots level and in a post-Covid society – watch this space!”

Stand-out statistics from the study show that whilst 3 million children in England are active, 2.3 million of these do not meet the national guidelines of 30 minutes of physical activity a day as of a study conducted for Sport for England in 2018; this has likely to have been further impacted by the onset of pandemic in 2020.

However, more positive research shows that young people who take part in regular physical activity are over five times more likely to report increased resilience levels and twenty percent less likely to suffer from mental health issues (cited in Centre for SocialJustice 2020).

Mintridge Foundation founder and Managing Director, Alex Wallace, added:

“We had the great pleasure of welcoming Maya as our first ever placement-year student from September 2020 to July 2021, and the passion and professionalism she displayed was second to none. We hope that the results of her study help to promote the benefits of maintaining positive coping strategies, such as taking part in sporting activities, to benefit for your mental health and that this message resonates with young people across the country.”

Harnessing the power of positive sporting role models, the Foundation was founded by Alex Wallace in 2015, and provides school children across the country with long-term mentorship to nurture their talents and wellbeing through sport and celebrated launching its 400th programme earlier this year.

With a roster of ambassadors including Olympians, Paralympians and professional sports stars from over 20 sports – such as Zoe Harrison, Bobby Copping and Eboni Usoro-Brown and many more – its team works with schools, clubs and academies across the UK to nurture young talent, increase confidence and enhance life skill to help maintain both mental and physical wellbeing.

To learn more about The Mintridge Foundation and its programmes, visit:

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