Last year, the Camden Fencing Club ran a programme to encourage young women and girls to get into fencing. The programme was very successful, with the club recruiting a number of girls from diverse backgrounds and ages who have now taken up the sport on a more serious level. Although fencing is still seen by many as a ‘male sport’, thanks to sporting campaigns such as 'This Girl Can', things are starting to change. The girls from last year’s programme all commented on how fencing has improved their self-esteem and made them more confident. It has also given them the opportunity to learn new skills and make new friends in the local area.
The club wanted to organise a similar programme this year, so decided to run a fencing summer camp, which was funded by a £650 Small Grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation. The grant money was used to offer free places for those who would usually not be able to afford to take part and also subsidised places for existing girls in the club. This not only gave existing members the chance to improve their skills and go on to compete in competition, but meant that they could act as mentors and role models to the new starters. The club also used the grant to invest in more equipment needed by female fencers, such as chest protectors and smaller gear.
The camp was a real success, with 30 young women and girls taking part. The girls had the opportunity to meet new people from Camden and make new friends. Despite the group coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, they had no problems learning together as they were all focused on the same activity. No one was treated differently. The self-confidence and self-esteem of the girls was noticeably improved over the week-long course, as their skills improved and they got to know each other.
As a consequence of the camp, there has been an increase in membership at the club, largely of girls. This means that the club successfully encouraged more girls to take up fencing, and had a really positive impact on the existing young people at the club. It has meant new friends and new sparring partners with whom they can practise with.
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