School pupils and two community sports coordinators have been praised for their efforts to stay active during the pandemic by the Youth Sport Trust.

Youngsters from across Falkirk Schools, along with Active Schools coordinators Fiona MacKay and Lisa Male, were presented with the UK children’s charity’s Outstanding Contribution to the Community Award this week.

The award, which is sponsored by Decathlon, recognises those which “harness the power of physical activity, PE and sport to develop and deliver targeted interventions which bring people and communities together”.

When the pandemic hit, Fiona and Lisa capitalised on an opportunity to promote good habits in physical activity to girls attending nearby schools. Together, they established the Falkirk Girls Sports Forum (FSSF) and used the forum to stay connected virtually with their target audience during difficult and disconnected times. This is an inclusive groups which has pupils with a disability representing their school.

They recruited 18 young ‘changemakers’ aged between 13 and 14 who they supported to continue work in their local communities to tackle poor mental health and social isolation.The forum has created a ripple effect, enabling all 18 girls to support their communities, develop their own advocates, and build their confidence to help them find their voice in engaging in suitable sports and physical activity.

Accepting the accolade, Lisa said: “It is amazing to win this award, we are so proud of what has been achieved. The work that the girls and young changemakers have done is inspirational and we give full credit to them.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of the Youth Sport Trust and other partners and networks. Thank you.”

Ali Oliver, Youth Sport Trust chief executive, said: “The Trust would like to congratulate Falkirk Community Trust Active Schools and Sports Scotland, the winners of our Inspiring Changemakers Outstanding Contribution to the Community Award. They have each demonstrated a huge commitment to the central role of play, sport and physical education in young people’s recovery from the consequences of the pandemic – using it to build back wellbeing and accelerate academic progress.