The pioneering ‘Spòrs Gàidhlig’ project, delivering Gaelic-language outdoor activities, is set to continue following the announcement of further funding support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
It had been feared that the project would have to close, with two staff being made redundant, as sales uptake had not grown as quickly as first expected.
The new £45,000 funding package from Bòrd na Gàidhlig means that Spòrs Gàidhlig can continue for at least the next 18 months, during which time it is hoped that more schools and parents will take advantage of the opportunities offered.
Spòrs Gàidhlig is a project created by youth and community development company Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG). CnaG Chief Executive Donald MacNeill said: “We are delighted that we have been able to reach agreement with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and to secure this additional support.
“We’ve been working on this project for four or five years, but are as convinced now, as we were at the beginning, of the value of this project – supporting young people’s language, social and physical development.
“This new Bòrd na Gàidhlig support is a vital part of our funding package, but it remains the case that we will have to earn £120,000 in sales income over the next 18 months to make the project sustainable into the longer term.
“This will be quite a challenge, but we are optimistic based on the progress we have made already and the offers of support we have had on social media from parents and schools.”
Shona MacLennan, Bòrd na Gàidhlig CEO, said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig has supported Spòrs Gàidhlig since its inception and we are delighted to continue support for the next 18 months.
“Sport contributes greatly to the use of Gaelic, so we look forward to working with Comunn na Gàidhlig, the other funding partners, parents and schools to help this project continue and be a success.”
Formally established in 2017, Spòrs Gàidhlig has focussed on training a small team of Gaelic-speaking instructors in a variety of outdoor activities.
These qualifications, and the securing of the essential AALA (Adventurous Activities Licensing Agency) in 2018 allowed the team to begin delivering outdoor activity sessions in Gaelic – primarily to schools, but also through bookings with individual parents or groups of parents.
The activities provided range from climbing to gorge walking, SUP paddle boards to orienteering, bush craft, or Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.
All of these are delivered in Gaelic – helping to support the language learning of pupils following Gaelic Medium Education (GME).
In a strong partnership with Glenmore Lodge, sportscotland’s national outdoor training centre near Aviemore, it has also been possible to deliver high-quality residential trips to GME pupils.
Spòrs Gàidhlig project manager, Donald Morris said: “It is great news that we can continue for the next 18 months.
“We are extremely grateful for the supportive letters and comments we received from parents and others when Spòrs Gàidhlig was threatened with closure.
“Knowing the work was so widely and highly-regarded was a boost to the staff and gives us a lot of confidence to sustain our efforts.
“Our challenge now is to turn this support into bookings for the months ahead, and we already have firm plans in place to visit schools and parent groups to outline the opportunities and activities we can deliver, and to start putting firm bookings into our calendar.
“We would urge any school, or parent group who wants to know more to get in touch.”