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Active Black Country project wins gold at national Sportivate awards
Rise Up Yoga, an Active Black Country project, received gold in Sport Engand’s Sportivate Project of the Year Awards at a special event at the House of Commons on 12 October 2016. The award was presented by Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch MP and Paralympic superstar Dame Sarah Storey. 

The award recognises projects and clubs which are successfully engaging the community in sport and physical activity. In particular Rise Up Yoga, led by local resident Akil Maylor, aimed to engage the community of Chervil Rise, Heath Town in Wolverhampton. To-date the project has seen 500 young people participate.

Rise Up Yoga is one of many Sportivate projects around England. The project gives young people, who weren’t playing sport previously, the chance to discover a new activity by offering six to eight weeks of intensive coaching. Once the coaching sessions are completed, the participants are matched up with a local club or venue where they can continue to play.

Since its launch, more than 780,000 young people have attended Sportivate sessions, with over 650,000 completing their coaching sessions. Sportivate is being delivered by a network of 44 county sports partnerships, who work with local clubs and providers, to deliver these National Lottery funded sessions.

Akil Maylor, Rise Up Yoga said: "I have seen the wonderful impact that the yoga sessions have had on the community of Heath Town. By providing an opportunity to be active and learn new skills we have shown young people there is hope and a future - as there was nothing here before. To be recognised for this work nationally is fantastic both for the project and for the many people who have taken part, it will inspire us to create and deliver more projects like these.”

Deborah Williams, Chair of Active Black Country said: "This is absolutely fantastic news for Heath Town and the Black Country and shows that a little money can go a long way. This is a project which has been 2 years in the making, building skills in communities and listening to people to understand what they need and then delivering tailor made opportunities. Well Done”

Director for Community Sport at Sport England, Mike Diaper, said: "Yoga is a great activity for the mind and body. It’s fantastic that thanks to Rise Up Yoga, more young people on the Heath Town Estate are reaping these benefits. This project embodies the best of Sportivate, it brings an activity right to the heart of a community, and it challenges young people who might not think yoga is for them, to reconsider. This is only the beginning for Rise Up Yoga and I wish the yoga club continued success.” 

Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch said: "These awards are a fantastic acknowledgement of the huge contribution our young people and community groups have made to the success of Sportivate.

"The inspirational winners are doing amazing things across a range of sports and it is right that we celebrate their wonderful achievements."

The Heath Town estate in Wolverhampton is one of the most deprived areas in the Black Country with low levels of participation in physical activity, high levels of health inequities and high unemployment. Active Black Country developed a project that aimed to upskill a local resident to deliver yoga, tai chi and martial arts across the estate - addressing mental and physical health inequalities. 

The project, developed in partnership with ‘Black Country Make’ was the brainchild of local resident Akil Maylor. The project was run at a disused shop acquired by Black Country Make in the middle of the Heath Town estate. The shop was turned into a yoga dojo though a combination of Sportivate investment and donations from local community and has become the base for Rise Up Yoga.

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