A petition launched to save one of Moray’s most popular school initiatives has quickly gathered more than 1000 signatures.
The Active Schools and Sports Development service is under threat of being axed as part of cash-strapped Moray Council’s efforts to make massive savings.
The scheme is offered to every school in the region, and provides programmes for every child to participate in physical activities.
If Moray Council scraps the service, it will become the first local authority in Scotland to do so and that possibility has angered local residents.
Eleanor Candy is the woman behind the petition and she was trained by Active Sports to become a netball coach for Dufftown Primary School.
She said: “I think it is an invaluable thing for schools, because although saving the swimming pools is important for the communities, active sports covers the whole of Moray and we have benefited a lot in Dufftown.
I cannot stress enough, that had it not been for the proactiveness of Active Schools and Sport in Moray, kids with…
“There is something on every night of the week here and kids can take part in activities after school for free.
“Me and a few other parents received training so that we can coach the netball team at Dufftown Primary and that all comes from active sports.”
Glyn Morris, founder of autism charity Friendly Access, works in partnership with the Active Schools service to run SURFable and SWIMable projects in Forres.
These ventures help children with learning disabilities learn how to swim and surf in an inclusive environment and Mr Morris believes their loss would be a bitter blow.
He said: “It’s hugely important to the whole of Moray and I have seen first hand how much it helps to develop and progress children in both primary and secondary schools.
“They act as our go-between the schools and our projects to ensure that children with disabilities are identified and do a huge amount to support and help us.
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“Without them, it would be hard for us to gather the resources to play that role.”
The service had 4,207 distinct participants during the 2017-18 term time and offered numerous different sporting sessions, including football, netball and cross country.
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter said: “Active Schools is certainly one of the services we are getting a strong response about locally and it will all be considered carefully with other comments about services such as the pools and libraries.
“The budget remains a considerable challenge and we won’t be able to say definitely what is going to happen until February 27.”