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Sports strategy “changed culture” of North Wales college and its community

A STRATEGY designed to improve health and wellbeing through sports and physical activity has transformed the culture of an award-winning college and its community.

Coleg Cambria’s Strategy for Sport and Physical Activity 2015-20 has been a huge success since its unveiling three years ago.

Led by Paula Wood, Assistant Principal and Director of Curriculum, the Active Cambria programme has united staff, students and organisations to support the mental and physical well-being of students and staff across the college.

Developed in line with nationwide bodies including Sport Wales and Colegau Cymru, Paula says Active Cambria has helped to encourage a positive and healthy working environment at their campuses in Wrexham and Deeside, while serving as best practice for some of the country’s top organisations using three distinct categories – Get Active, Elite Sport and Future Sport.

“We are only part of the way into the strategy but have done so much already, it’s been hugely successful,” she said.

“We have received and offered support to organisations across north east Wales and beyond, working collaboratively to give people opportunities they would not have had if not for Coleg Cambria.

“It’s been a revelation and we are totally thrilled with progress; Active Cambria has completely changed the culture of our organisation and many others.”

Paula added that many people were taking up physical activity and focusing on wellbeing. “The mental health and mindfulness side of the strategy is as important as anything else, because for us as well as the physical side it’s about building confidence,” she said.

“A lot of people have told us the programme has inspired them to get active for the very first time, and that’s being reflected among the students and our local area.”

The Strategy aims to create opportunities to become physically active, promoting a healthy culture and more sustainable future, especially for students, in preparation for the world of work.

An Elite sports programme was created for students across all sites, experts and organisations have been brought in to collaborate and support a new way of thinking, which has created excellent opportunities for future elite athletes.

“We are far, far ahead of where we expected to be because the engagement levels have been so high since day one,” said Paula.

“That includes with businesses, who have fed-in to the programme and helped us learn even more about what they need for a resilient, successful and sustainable workforce.

“A lot of the students will leave Coleg Cambria and follow their career path, often working long shifts across a variety of sectors that can be demanding physically and mentally.  As well the academic side we must support their wellbeing, which has been a key part of Active Cambria.”

She added: “We’ve been visited by speakers and fitness coaches and other people in the health and medical arenas, to give the learners more of an understanding about what’s needed for their futures.

“We are really passionate about this because it’s not just about them, it’s about their parents and families and their own children one day – it’s about creating opportunities for generations to come.”

For more information, visit www.cambria.ac.uk/category/active-cambria or follow @colegcambria on social media.