A new study is trying to find out why Tasmanian girls are not participating more in skateboarding, mountain biking or surfing.
The University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research is calling for parents and carers across the state to talk with them about their girl’s involvement in the three action sports.
The Girls in Action Sports study wants to life the lid on why Tasmanian girls are not participating in, or staying with the three sports.
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Associate Professor Verity Cleland said the research team had spoken spoken extensively to young people who participated in the sports and now wanted to talk to their parents and carers.
“We know that girls do less physical activity than boys as they get older, so finding ways to encourage girls to stay active is important for their long-term health and wellbeing,” she said.
“These action sports are exploding in popularity in Tasmania and around the world, with all three either being or soon becoming Olympic sports, yet women and girls are under-represented at all levels within these sports.”
Parents are being asked to provide information that could be used to help young Tasmanians pursue active lifestyles.
“We are really keen to talk to parents of girls who have stopped participating in skateboarding, surfing and mountain biking, and parents of girls who despite wanting to give the sport a go, have struck barriers to participating,” Associate Professor Cleland said.
Outdoor Education teacher and mountain biking coach Lauren (Loz) Stranger said working in a high school she saw girls opting out of participating in action sports.
“I think it’s for a number of reasons such as because there is a dominance of boys, they feel they wouldn’t be good enough and slow others down, they see it as dangerous, or lack confidence to try something new or out of their comfort zone,” Ms Stranger said.
“I try and encourage girls to come along as we accommodate all ability levels.”
Ms Stranger took up mountain biking six years ago because it was an easily accessible activity to do all year round.
“It gives me a thrill and time to switch off my brain and focus only on what I am doing.
“We have mountain biking on school camps where all students have a go. For some it’s just not their thing and a small handful love it. We probably see about 80 per cent boys and 20 per cent girls on average.”
Ms Stranger believes more girls and women are mountain biking because of the Shredding Betties Mountain Biking Club which encourages female mountain biking.
She and Christa Capel also run Rideo Mountain Biking focusing on kids, women and families.