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The Bristol Girls Can campaign launches

by Press Release
Friday 6th March 2015

Four times Commonwealth gold medallist gymnast Claudia Fragapane has lent her support to a new campaign to inspire more Bristol women to get out there and enjoy exercise

The Bristol Girls Can campaign launches today (Friday, 6 March) ahead of International Women’s Day this Sunday (8 March) and follows the success of Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, launched earlier this year.

Supported by Bristol City Council and Sport England, the campaign aims to bring women from across the city together to show the world that Bristol Girls Can.

According to Sport England statistics, around 38.3% of women in Bristol undertake 1x30mins activity per week, with more than 60% of women currently not taking part in any regular activity.

Bristol Girls Can is a celebration of active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face goes. 

It is aimed at inspiring women to wiggle, jiggle and prove that judgement is a barrier which can be overcome.  The message is clear: Do your thing, don’t let anything stand in your way.

Seven women, who are doing what they do without letting anything stand in their way, have stepped forward as the stars of the Bristol Girls Can campaign.

The Bristol Girls include:

• Climbers Tracey Price, 46, of Withywood, and Clare Enyon, 52, of Bishopsworth;
• Swimmer Rosee Woodland, 39, of South Bristol;
• Rose Taylor, 31, of Bedminster, who attends outdoor fitness class, Buggy Buddies;
• Cyclist Jenny Bell, 35, of Totterdown;
• Footballer Evelyn Cohen, 26, of Redfield;
• This Mum Runs runner Anneke van Eijkern, 40, of Ashton;
• Gig rower Polly Howe, 16, of Brislington.

Claudia Fragapane, who trains at the Easton-based Bristol Hawks Gymnastics Club, said: “I really like the concept of the “This Girl Can” campaign as it seeks to get women of all ages, shapes and sizes to simply get involved in some form of activity and just enjoy themselves. 

“There are so many positive outcomes of being involved in activities – firstly the health benefits but also the camaraderie it brings. If you are thinking of giving zumba, the gym, a running club or gymnastics a go, I would say definitely go for it. You can be tall, short, slim or curvy, it really doesn’t matter - it is all about enjoying yourself and doing something that will have a really positive affect on your life.”

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “The message behind Bristol Girls Can, as with the national campaign, is brilliantly inspiring. It gives me enormous pleasure to see the city celebrate its active women and I hope others will be inspired by Bristol Girls Can. Creating an active, healthy and happy Bristol is at the core of my vision for the city and I remain a champion for raising participation in sport and physical activity, as well as women’s issues, through my mayoral commissions.”

Councillor Simon Cook, Assistant Mayor with responsibility for sport, added: Bristol Girls Can has a real feel good factor, as well as the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of Bristol’s girls and women – this is something each and every one of us can embrace.

“The council’s Sport, Play and Funding Team aims to support women and girls to enjoy active lifestyles, and we are proud to partner this national campaign organised by Sport England.  I encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle, however you choose.”

As part of the campaign, organisers are challenging women to post pictures of their “game face” on the Bristol Girls Can Facebook page and Twitter using #BristolGirlsCan to bring together a community of the city’s active women.

As well as posters and banners springing up across the city, there will be plenty of fun activities in Bristol for girls and women of all ages and abilities as the campaign gets into full swing.

To celebrate the launch of the campaign and International Women’s Day, the council is offering free women-only activity sessions across the city on 8 March.

For more information on this, as well as opportunities to lead active lifestyles in the city, visit www.bristol.gov.uk/thisgirlcan

Key findings in the Sport England research include:

  • There are about 191,648 women in Bristol aged 16+;                                   
  • 38.3% (39,200) have some activity habit and undertake 1x30mins activity per week (Therefore, 61.7% do not);
  • 63,300 women do not have a regular activity habit.

Meet a couple of the Bristol Girls

Anneke van Eijkern

Age: 40
Lives: Ashton
Sport: Running
Works: Equality worker

I wanted to start running but I’d tried it before and not really stuck at it. I heard about a running community called ‘This Mum Runs’ and looked at the group on Facebook. I was inspired to see that mums were out running and members were actively encouraged to post to find women of their own ability to run with, so I took the first step and posted to see if there were any other beginners.

It struck a chord with lots of other mums and there were loads of replies, but no one really knew where or how to start. Mel, the organiser of the group, offered to coach us and put together a Couch-to-5K programme. Fifteen women signed up straight away with a long waiting list of others.

When we started we were running for a minute at a time, and now we can all run 5K without stopping – and what’s even more incredible is that we actually enjoy it!

A big change is realising when I get home from work tired, the kids are screaming and I don’t want to get off the sofa, that there are other mums out there feeling the same yet are still managing to go. There are basically no excuses! I’ve realised it’s OK to find some ‘me’ time each week without feeling guilty. Just being able to get outside, exercise and share stories with other Mums makes us all feel more positive, like we’re all in it together.

When I have a good run, I literally can’t wait to post it on the group and always know that people will be pleased for me. If I have a rubbish run, they’re there to reassure and provide encouragement so that I don’t give up.

I read stories about the achievements of other mums in the group and feel inspired. It’s a great pooling of knowledge in one place and feels like a massive family of inspiring women that I’m proud to be a part of.

Rose Taylor

Age: 31
Lives: Bedminster
Sport: Buggy Buddies
Works: Full time mum to two boys

I had my first son when I was 28 and up until then I realise I’d not been involved in much physical activity for a long time. My family all love to walk and all my childhood memories are of hiking holidays but I didn’t engage with sport much at all when I was in school.
By the time I’d had my first son I was 28 and really not very fit at all. Once he was about five months old, I felt like I’d lost all my confidence and knew I had to do something about it. One of my friends told me about Buggy Buddies, which is an outdoor fitness class across parks in Bristol. I live near Victoria Park, so went to the one there.
When I turned up I was really nervous – I was convinced everyone there would be super fit and have been doing it for ages, but it’s not like that at all. Everyone who turns up has had all the pain of no sleep, having to feed your baby in time and generally feeling a bit rubbish!

But by the time you have finished it feels so great that it’s always worth getting out the door. We all go for a coffee or lunch after too, so there’s a great sense of support and camaraderie that I feel really grateful for.
I’ve taken my second son back to the class. I quickly got back into it and am now training four times a week to do a 10K, which I didn’t think was possible. I can now run for 45 minutes and feel that I might be in better shape than I’ve been since I was a 10-year-old being dragged up a mountain by my dad!


For more information about #BristolGirlsCan visit www.bristol.gov.uk/page/leisure-and-culture/girl-can

For more information about This Girl Can visit www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/about-us/


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