ALMOST 200,000 visits were made by pupils to Active Schools sessions in Stirling over the past 12 months – a rise of nearly 20 per cent.

New data published by sportscotland shows that 8,000 children and young people took part in a wide range of activities across the area in 2018/19.

Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, cllr Chris Kane said: “We are committed to ensuring everyone in Stirling has the opportunity to get active and it’s fantastic that more of our children and young people are participating in the Active Schools programme.

“The benefits of physical activity and sport are well documented, and through schemes like Active Schools, we are breaking down barriers and helping to give our children the best start in life.”

Active Schools, one of sportscotland’s longest running flagship programmes, aims to provide more and higher quality opportunities for young people to take part in sport and physical activity before school, during lunchtime and after school.

This initiative in Stirling is led by a team of Active Schools Co-ordinators, who are assigned to each primary and secondary school to develop sport and physical activity programmes.

Volunteers deliver 94% of the sessions.

Vice Convener of the Committee, cllr Maureen Bennison said: “Increasing participation in physical activity and sport in our children and young people not only has health benefits but is an important tool in tackling inequalities across Stirling, which is a key Council priority.

“These Active Schools figures are hugely encouraging, and I would like to recognise the contribution of all the volunteers whose dedication and hard work is achieving such positive outcomes in our schools and communities.”

Nationally, Active Schools continues to have an impact on children’s physical activity levels with 7.3 million visits made to activities across Scotland in 2018/19, an increase of 0.4% on the previous year. The number of people delivering the sessions has also increased nationally, up 3.3%.

Mel Young, chair of sportscotland, said: “It is fantastic to see that Active Schools continues to grow year on year with more opportunities delivered and another increase in the number of people participating.

“Our mission is to help the people of Scotland get the most out of the sporting system at every level and Active Schools has a crucial role to play in engaging young people in sport and physical activity.

“We talk about making an impact together and Active Schools is a great example of working with the right partners in the right way to deliver results.

“The Active Schools network is reliant on strong local partnerships with schools, local authorities, sport development teams, regional managers from governing bodies of sport, volunteers and the clubs who welcome children and young people into their communities.”