The Manchester Academy of Community Gymnastics is the brainchild of local couple Maxine and Mike Grech. Having lived in the Salford area their whole lives, they understand the importance of sport to the local communities and being from humble beginnings they are acutely aware of how difficult it is for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and deprived areas to access good, safe, inspirational and affordable sporting facilities within their communities.
This project is their way of giving something back to the local community and they have a vision of providing a world-class state of the art sports and recreation facility, operated as a charity, not for profit organisation which will enable young people, irrelevant of social disadvantages or disabilities, to achieve as much as possible, giving them a platform to help them achieve in their chosen discipline and helping them get the best start in life.
Centred on, but not limited to Gymnastics, Dance, Wrestling and Boxing, the centre will focus on offering state of the art facilities to the most deprived in Salford and Greater Manchester, giving them opportunities to try the sports on offer, train in their chosen disciplines and progress onto the team training where they can be supported into achieving their full potential. Gymnastics is an elite sport and young people with disabilities or those from deprived areas that suffer from financial hardship or other disadvantages can struggle to access these types of opportunities and facilities.
The Rio Olympics saw Britain achieve unprecedented levels of success in gymnastics. Capitalising on the progress made at the London 2012 Games, the gymnastics team came home with six medals in a stunning performance. Just as it did with cycling, these successes have created a huge interest in Gymnastics nationally and MAG wants to harness this by providing a facility that, as well as supporting local young people, can offer opportunities to young people outside of Greater Manchester who find it difficult to access world class facilities where they live.
In February 2016, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described rising rates of childhood obesity as a ‘national emergency’. This crisis is well documented and we recognise that supporting young people from an early age is important. Generating an interest in sport from as early as Key Stage 1 will help create a sporting and fitness habit for life and help support young people into healthier lifestyles. We hope to generate lots of local interest by providing affordable state of the art facilities that offer young people a chance to try a number of sporting disciplines under one roof and have the ability to progress should they want to.
Inclusivity For All
We believe there shouldn’t be any limitations to participation. The cost of accessing recreational activities can be preventative and MAG wants to provide opportunities affordable to the whole community. The current team involved in this project have all experienced first-hand how some families struggle to find affordable facilities that their children can attend and, moreover, be developed in a chosen discipline to achieve the best they can irrespective of any additional need. Whether a child has a disability, special needs, or has financial constraints, many young people face huge obstacles to even get to the stage where sport can be a regular hobby.
Working with paid staff who are experts in their fields and supported by volunteers, MAG aims to break down the barriers to participation and support young people at all levels to progress as far as they are able or want to. This might be as simple as somewhere to go to do sport, keep fit and make friends, to progressing in a chosen discipline and becoming the next British or Olympic champion. For young people with additional needs or a disability it might be as simple as being able to do a forward roll or a hand stand or they could progress as far as the Paralympics, we want to enable young people to achieve their dreams.
Our Hardship Fund will be set up to support local disadvantaged young people by providing the necessary financial support for specialist sports equipment, membership and affiliation subscriptions as well as support with travel and subsistence where required for competitions. The business community will be approached to become patrons of the charity to provide not just financial support but also innovation, local awareness and the ability to network. They are not only financially essential but they will also be of strategic importance regarding publicity, the widening of our support base and provision of other additional support.