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Active US celebrates milestone target of 50,000 visits

Active US student activators and staff celebrate with 50,000 visitor Clara Lefrancois (centre).

Sussexsport's social sport programme is celebrating after reaching a milestone target of 50,000 visits.

The Active US campaign has exceeded its target to increase Sussex students’ participation in sport at the University, with the help of Sussexsport staff and students.

The campaign, a joint initiative between Sussexsport and the Students’ Union and part-funded by Sport England, started in September 2014 with the intention of offering low-cost social sport at Sussex to engage inactive students.

Student Clara Lefrancois, a postgraduate in the school of Global Studies, regularly attends Active US sessions and was the lucky 50,000th visitor, winning herself a £50 voucher.

Her most recent visit to a bouldering session at Boulder Brighton has helped Active US hit the milestone, making her the 50,000th visitor.

Clara heard about Active US during her postgraduate induction and decided to go to bouldering having already done it at home in Switzerland. Clara said: “You meet a lot of people from different schools and backgrounds, there’s a real mix of nationalities. Most of my class started going too, it brings people together outside of their studies.”

When she isn’t studying, Clara spends her free time taking part in Active US sessions: “There’s sports to do on campus and also in the city. I do bouldering and swimming off-campus and it’s really affordable. As I live between Brighton and the University, it’s easy to get there by bike.”

In the build-up to reaching 50,000 visits, Active US featured a visit totalometer, showcasing students from each sport who take part in the weekly sessions - whether just once, or 26 times - like Clara has.

Clara explains how the programme has become a core part of her university life: “It’s important to do sports in addition to your studies. You can get involved and develop yourself when you need a break from classes.

"Active US is affordable and encourages students to try out all kinds of sports, regardless of their financial situation.”

The drop-in social sport sessions have been so popular that Active US exceeded its initial three-year target of 33,000 visits within two years, deciding to set themselves an even bigger target of 50,000 visits instead.

As well as totaling 50,000 visits, Active US has achieved numerous other successes across the three years of the campaign, including:

  • Being a top-five UK university for student participation rates in Basketball, Women's Football, Badminton and Volleyball
  • Providing students with the opportunity to try 31 different sports, including innovative new activities such as  Quidditch, Zorball and UV sports
  • Getting 10,274 students active by engaging in Active US activities
  • Linking to national campaigns such as This Girl Can with a ‘This Sussex Girl Can’ initiative to increase awareness, engagement and opportunities for female participation in sport.

Marc Slowey, Active US Participation Coordinator, puts the success of the campaign down to being peer-led.

He says: “We could not have done this without past and present student activators. With everyone’s continued support we are aiming to grow bigger and better year on year.”

Clara agrees, adding: “The fact that it’s peer-led is really good, students know what other students want. Having the sport facilities on campus also creates a great atmosphere.”

Active US has not only got more students at the University engaged in activity, it’s also brightened up their job prospects. The students leading the sessions have benefitted from going on prestigious training courses such as the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Deloitte Leadership Academy, and many others have been recognised for their positive impact within sport, winning national awards such as BUCS Student Volunteer of the Year.

And each year Active US employs a part-time final year BMEc student to analyse data from the campaign – including logging milestones such as 50,000 visits. The programme also employs a full-time Graduate Intern every year to manage the social media and communications. The most recent interns have gone on to work with Boden Fashion and Police Now.

Simon Tunley, Head of Sport, praised the success of the project. He says: “Active US has been an amazing campaign for the University; it has exceeded all expectations and delivered a high-quality programme of affordable and accessible activities to the campus population over the last three years.”

Simon adds: “At a time when campus is expanding and student numbers are increasing it has provided a real alternative to students to stay active and enjoy their sport.

“Active US is now an established part of campus life and, with the potential of another three years of funding, it will remain a core part of our delivery going forwards.”

To celebrate the campaign’s achievement, Active US is holding a Beach Sport Festival event at Yellowave from 12 noon to 4pm on Wednesday 26 April 2017. The event is free for all Sussex students to attend and will consist of non-competitive social Volleyball and Soccer games, with prizes and freebies on the day.

Reflecting on the 50,000 milestone, Marc says: “I’m so proud to be part of a campaign that has impacted so many students and improved their student experience at Sussex. Thanks to the help of our key partners across Brighton, we have managed to make sport accessible to all.”

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Posted on behalf of: Clea Hauser | Active US
Last updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2017

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