People in the Diss area are being urged to back a £3.4 million bid for funding for a school sports complex, available for the whole community, which aims to boost public health.
Diss High School’s ageing indoor gyms were built in 1959 and a lack of quality sports space in this area, particularly indoors, is harming our children’s health, according to the school’s head of PE, James Kemp.
The school is preparing a bid for a grant under the Government’s Academies Capital Maintenance Fund, and aims to pull in funding from bodies, including local councils.
The main facility will be a new indoor sports hall, offering space for four badminton courts, side by side, with the option for basketball, cricket nets and netball. The building will have its own reception area, separate gym/dance studio, and other rooms for learning and classes.
This will be complemented by a full size multi-sport floodlit AstroTurf-style pitch outside, long jump and high jump facilities.
All of the facilities will be available to those in the Diss area, when not used by the school, including for local sports clubs which are crying out for better facilities closer to home, according to Mr Kemp.
Mr Kemp said access to better sporting facilities is vital, at a time when national surveys in England suggest about three in ten two-to-15-year-olds are overweight, while 14-20 per cent are obese.
“I’ve been teaching PE for 18 years. There’s no doubt that pupils’ fitness is less than when I started.
“Yes we have the Xbox and Playstation generation, but by offering them different things, we can inspire them. Not everyone likes the team sports like football or rugby. Also, not everyone likes going out in the winter when it is cold and wet. Better facilities are inspirational for them.”
Children in the Diss area are having to make expensive trips to Hartismere School in Eye, Loddon, Framlingham Earl High School and even Norwich just to have access to the facilities they need.
All of this means the school has a compelling case for funding, according to Diss High’s business manager Jacqui Lincoln, who is helping to prepare the bid. “We are talking to the right people”, she said. “We have been previously successful in extending our music and drama facilities.”
In 1959, when the gyms were built, the school had 500 pupils. It now can cater for up to 1,200.
The deadline for the bid is for the end of January. To support the bid, visit the school’s webpage for a downloadable letter, http://www.disshigh.norfolk.sch.uk/?p=sports.bid, which can be submitted. They also have a Facebook page, with over 1,000 ‘likes’ already, and can be found by searching Diss Community Sports Complex BACK the BID.