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The Mount proud supporters of 2024’s Make Space for Girls Festival York


We are proud to be supporting 2024’s Make Space for Girls Festival York. 

The festival, taking place across June, will host a series of free events and activities for teenage girls. From sports & exercise, arts & crafts, theatre & music to creative writing plus much more – there’s plenty for girls to get involved with. 

Events are aimed at girls aged 10-18, with some suited to younger, and at some sessions women of all ages are welcome.  

The festival focuses on creating welcoming parks, aiming to reduce the drop off of park use as girls enter their teenage years. The aim is for girls and women to have a safe, welcome and fun environment to try new things, meet new people, and feel empowered to be themselves! The main programme of events takes place at Rowntree Park, but there are also events at Homestead Park and Westbank Park in 2024.  

Click here to Sign up to the Make Space for Girls York Festival mailing list to be the first to hear about the free events happening through June (and May half term!) 

The festival, which began in 2023, is led by Abigail Gaines as a passion project and is something she feels very deeply about.  

‘The June festival is all about reclaiming the public space, trying new things, meeting like-minded individuals – and most of all, having fun,’ explains Abigail. 

Abigail first started the project on teen girls and Rowntree Park in Autumn 2021 by initiating research to find out the views of those aged 10-18 on the park. The aim was to find ways to encourage more older girls to use the park. 

National research shows: 

  • After the age of 10 girls use public parks less. 
  • 59% of older girls state they don’t feel welcome in parks. ParkWatch Report, in 2023, showed that 89% of those using facilities for older children across the UK were boys. 
  • By teenage years, only 13-15% of girls are meeting activity guidelines.
  • Not using parks can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health. 

‘Our own local research showed the drop off of older girls using public spaces. We want to change this and get older girls into Rowntree Park. Our project aims to look at improvements we can make to the physical environment (particularly equipment for older girls) as well as putting on more events and activities aimed at older girls in the park – and this led to the June Festival.”’

Thanks to Abigail and her volunteers’ hard work, the June 2023 programme of events received a national award from Green Flag for ‘Best initiative to engage and increase use of parks by women and girls’. 

The Mount School York are a proud, major supporter, helping to promote this important festival.  

‘We are thrilled to support this festival and the incredible work of Abigail,’ says Jo Goudriaan, Head of Sixth Form and incoming Deputy Principal. ‘The Make a Space for Girls Festival aligns perfectly with our values. As an all-girls senior school, we champion the needs and aspirations of young women every day. Additionally, as a Quaker school, we hold peace, tranquillity, and sustainability in high regard.’

Jo continues, ‘Parks and green spaces offer countless benefits for physical and mental well-being. It’s crucial that girls and women have access to these spaces and can fully embrace the opportunities they provide. We are fortunate to have a beautiful park-like environment in our own grounds, and we witness daily the positive impact it has on our girls. They use it for relaxation, fresh air, exercise, and most importantly, simply having fun with friends.’

The Mount School York is delighted to support this initiative, which brings this vital message to the wider community. 

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