A new online community for Bay of Plenty women has been created to help local ladies find out about opportunities to get active, get involved, and connect with other like-minded women.
She Plays in the Bay is a new Facebook Group, created and hosted by Sport Bay of Plenty's Play in the Bay initiative, designed for women who are interested in low-cost/free recreational classes.
The driver behind this, says Western Bay of Plenty recreation advisor Michelle Barns, was to help break down any practical or personal barriers that may stop women from participating in activities by putting them in touch with other women who have the same goals and interests.
“According to research, nationally women and girls (15-18 years) participate in sport and recreation less than their male counterparts.
“The research shows women tend not to participate due to concerns about their ability, a lack of social confidence, and not knowing who to connect with or where to look. They also prefer to participate with a friend rather than go it alone, and cost is a barrier for many”.
In response to this research, Play in the Bay launched the Spring Starter Series for Women in 2016, a six-week series where women of all ages and abilities could sign up for and experience a sporting or recreational activity alongside other ladies, under the guidance of a trained instructor.
All activities are beginner-level, offered at a low-cost, and there is a strong focus on ensuring a welcoming environment for participants.
The 2016 series was extremely well-received and the initiative was repeated in September 2017 with more than 200 women from across the Bay of Plenty taking part in activities such as golf, croquet, yoga, dance fitness, hula fitness and bootcamp.
The common theme across participant feedback as to why they enjoyed their experience was the joy that came from learning new skills and trying out a new activity within a non-threatening and non-judgemental environment alongside like-minded people.
But with the Spring Starter Series only an annual six week-long experience, Play in the Bay wanted to offer participants (and all other women in the Bay of Plenty) a way to continue their physical activity journey, while strengthening the relationships they'd created during the series and also building new ones.
“Regular physical activity not only provides physical health improvements but also contributes to enhanced emotional wellbeing and social connections,” says Michelle. “Creating an online space where women can share experiences, and receive encouragement and support seemed like a fantastic idea.”
She Plays in the Bay has more than 150 members already and is open to all ladies who want to know about or promote upcoming events.