As part of the DASH (Delivering Activity and Sport in Huntingdonshire) Phase II Project, Huntingdonshire District Council’s One Leisure Active Lifestyles Team has worked together with Sawtry Village Academy and the Sawtry Locality Team to provide a block of U Canoe sessions. These sessions aimed to support students who had been identified through the academy’s pastoral system as being in need of additional support to address a range of behavioural challenges such as low self-esteem or confidence.

The aim of the group was to enable young people to:

  • take part in sports activities to raise confidence and self-esteem
  • take part in physical activities for an extra hour a week to improve fitness and mental health
  • interact with others and work in groups they may not usually work in
  • be pushed out of their comfort zones
  • improve their communication skills.

U Canoe is a new initiative allowing young people to experience canoeing within the safer confines of a swimming pool. The sessions aim to provide a fun, informal, participant-led experience, where those taking part have the opportunity to try out a range of activities which will test and develop their canoeing skills. The sessions are the perfect first step to getting on the water and becoming a regular paddler.

Following on from the six week project, the young people showed tremendous progress. Becca Hoy, Senior Young Peoples Worker, said: "Something the staff were most proud of was that the young people worked together and were very supportive towards each other. They were able to help each other through encouragement and physically getting others into the kayaks if needed."

Cllr John Palmer, whose executive responsibilities include the One Leisure Active Lifestyles team, said: "U Canoe is a great activity that can be used to improve physical and mental wellbeing. The new sessions allowed the students to try something they hadn’t done before; it’s a great way for students to keep fit whilst having fun."

U Canoe sessions are suitable for any young person or group looking to try something new. If you are interested in booking a session at your nearest One Leisure swimming pool or would like additional information, please contact Doug Finlayson on 01480 387098 or doug.finlayson@huntingdonshire.gov.uk.