8 Jul 2008

Although the 5x60 officer in Pembrokeshire, Wyndham Williams, has not yet completed a year’s employment, he is already making a big impact in Pembrokeshire having installed a climbing wall in Pembroke Dock Community School and formed various clubs, leagues and events to get more young people in schools in Wales more active more often.

27-year-old Williams is responsible for increasing physical activity of school children at Greenhill and Pembroke Dock Community School which is a result of the 5x60 extra-curricular initiative - a Welsh Assembly Government scheme managed by the Sports Council for Wales aimed at getting young people in secondary schools in Wales more active more often.

School children in the two schools now have the option of participating in street dance, tennis, trampolining, badminton, boccia, bodycombat, self-defence, basketball, dodgeball, indoor rock climbing, surfing, boxing badminton, self-defence, surfing and climbing to name but a few thanks to Wyndham.

Wyndham, who plays rugby for Tenby Rugby Club, explains "There are a great variety of different sports activities available to school children now - it’s moved on a great deal from the days where you could only play rugby or football, hockey or netball. The children have reacted well to the variety of activities available to them and enjoy the experience, which is most important of all."

One of the biggest projects Wyndham has been involved with since he took up his post is being fundamental in the development of a climbing wall in Pembroke Dock School. He explains:

"This was a massive project but also very rewarding. A lot of work was involved in meeting and liaising with different partners as well as acquiring adequate funding. The school children really enjoy this activity because as well as being good fun, it helps them develop muscle strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, mental and physical focus."

Another person fundamental in helping Wyndham achieve this dream was Cat Pearson, cover supervisor for Pembroke School and a trained climbing instructor and mountaineering leader. 32-year-old Cat, who lives in Pembroke, says "There was a great deal of work involved in getting this climbing wall up and running but it was definitely worth the effort. The number of children participating in climbing is increasing week on week.

"The climbing lesson not only helps boost confidence and self-esteem, but also stresses the importance of trust – trusting other people around you as well as the instructors. Being a cover supervisor here at the school has inspired me to become a teacher and I’ll be starting my PGCE in September in Aberystwyth."

During year one in 2006, thirty-nine schools were involved in the 5x60 programme and as the bell tolled on the start of the new 2007/2008 term, a further 86 schools hopped on board and are now fully operational. During 2008’s spring term alone, more than 8,000 5x60 sessions took place – an increase of nearly 3000 on the autumn term.

There are 5x60 officers working in every local authority in Wales to deliver the programme and significant process is taking place up and down the country.

Proving the most popular activity among girls in Wales is dance which features right at the top of the league table while football, fitness and cheerleading are also favoured. Meanwhile, boys tend to swerve towards dodge-ball but they also beat a path to the football pitch and the basketball court.