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Involving girls and women in sport and physical activity across the life course: The role of psychology

06 December 2021 6:45 pm - 8:15 pm
This webinar is free to attend and open to all. Registration is required
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This event will share research from Health Psychologists, Sport and Exercise psychologists, Community Groups and sporting associations.

Please see Programme tab for more information.

6.45pm (5mins)

Welcome and Introduction

Dr Laura McGowan, Lecturer in Nutrition and Behaviour Change, Queen’s University Belfast (DHP-NI Chair)

6.50pm (15mins)

‘Psychological Benefits of Physical Activity and Sport for Children’

Dr Gavin Breslin, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychology, Ulster University 

7.05pm (15mins)

‘Opportunities to get involved in exercise and sport through girls and women’s football with the Irish FA’

Angela Platt Director of Women’s Football, Irish Football Association (IFA)

7:20pm (15mins)

‘This Girl Can’

Clare Drummy, Southern Health & Social Care Trust

7.35pm (10mins)

‘Gaelic Football for Mothers and Others’

Carrie Ann Rafferty and Christina Campbell, St Patricks Gaelic Athletic Club, Lisburn

7.45pm (15mins)

‘Menopause: a time for change. Physical Activity across the menopausal transition’

Dr Liz Simpson, Ulster University

8.00pm (5 mins)

'Menopause and me'

Barbara Bray

8:05pm (10 mins)

Panel Q&A

Chaired by Dr Marian McLaughlin, Ulster University


Webinar Close


Dr Laura McGowan 

Dr Laura McGowan is a Chartered Psychologist and Lecturer in Nutrition and Behaviour Change within the Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast. She has previously worked in the Public Health Agency NI and at the Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London.

Her research focuses on the development of theory-based behaviour change interventions to improve diet and nutrition status, and to prevent and treat obesity, in a variety of population groups spanning the lifecycle, with an emphasis on the reproductive years (i.e. pre-pregnancy/preconception and pregnancy).

Dr McGowan is the Lead for the Association for the Study of Obesity Northern Ireland Network https://www.aso.org.uk/network/northern-ireland/ and is currently Chair of the Division of Health Psychology, NI.

Dr McGowan is an invited member of the Obesity Prevention Steering Group at the Dept. of Health NI and an invited member of the All-Island Obesity Coalition run by Safefood.

Dr Gavin Breslin -‘Psychological Benefits of Physical Activity and Sport for Children’

Physical activity has many physical health benefits. This presentation draws on the evidence showing the benefits of participating in physical activity on children’s psychological wellbeing. The physical activity levels of boys and girls and evidenced based programmes for school children will be discussed.

Dr Gavin Breslin is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Ulster University, a Member of The Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing. He is the author of three books exploring the psychology of sport and exercise, the most recent being Understanding Sport Psychology (SAGE Publishers due October, 2021). More details on Dr Breslin’s research is available here: https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/en/persons/gavin-breslin

Angel Platt - 'Opportunities to get involved in exercise and sport through girls and women’s football with the Irish FA'

Angela Platt is the Irish FA’s first ever Director of Women’s Football. She is passionate about football and developing the sporting capabilities of women and girls.   She has been chairperson of the Female Sports Forum for the past 10 years in a voluntary capacity and was a member of the Northern Ireland Sports Forum. 

A former elite athlete, Angela played for the Ireland senior international hockey team as goalkeeper from 2000 to 2006, amassing 75 caps in the process, after playing hockey, football, athletics and badminton at youth international level. She was awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal) in 2020 for her contribution to sports development in Northern Ireland.

Angela will outline in her talk the range of opportunities provided by the Irish FA and its partner organisations, for women and girls engage with and participate in sport and exercise throughout NI.  Those opportunities include participation opportunities as well as volunteer opportunities to programmes and activities.

Clare Drummy - 'This girl can... Make a change'

This Girl Can is a campaign which supports teachers and girls to develop and deliver a This Girl Can campaign in their school.

The campaign recognises that friends are the greatest influencers on adolescent girls and that positive encouragement and support from their peers is the most effective way to get girls active – at school and at home.  It supports girls to lead campaigns in their own school.

By taking ownership of the campaign – and by creating and promoting messages that influence their peers – girls can help each other to get active, in ways that are right for them.

The presentation will provide an overview of how this will be implemented in the Southern Health & Social Care Trust. The This Girl Can…Create Change schools resource is part of the national This Girl Can campaign which supports women and girls to get active. 

Clare Drummy is the physical activity lead in the Promoting Wellbeing Division in the Southern Health & Social Care Trust.

Carrie Ann Rafferty and Christina Campbell 

Carrie Ann Rafferty is a member of St Patrick’s GAC, in Lisburn, where she is both the Club’s Health and Wellbeing Officer and a member of the recently established Gaelic for Mothers and Others (G4M&Os) team. Within her role as Health and Well-being Officer she, alongside the health and well-being subcommittee, has introduced a number of well-being initiatives including virtual well-being activities during Lockdown to support members to  remain connected with the Club and community. The subcommittee has also actively supported the introduction of the G4M&Os at St Patrick’s GAC. 

A qualified social worker with over 20 working experience working with children and families, Carrie Ann is a strong advocate of the biopsychosocial benefits of engagement in sports throughout the life-span and has a particular interest in supporting female participation in sport/addressing the factors that contribute to early drop out. 

Christina Campbell is a Senior Biostatistician at the Northern Ireland Clinical Trials Unit (NICTU) with over 7 years’ experience of health research.

Christina is also a keen Gaelic Footballer and is a Player, Parent, Coach and LGFA Committee Member at St Patricks GAC in Lisburn. She has been involved in both the set up and delivery of the Gaelic for Mothers & Others programme at the club which has been hugely successful this year.

'Gaelic for Mothers and Others' is an initiative led by the Ladies Gaelic Football Association to introduce mothers and other women to playing Ladies Football.

Carrie Ann and Christina will speak about the introduction of the initiative at St Patrick’s GAC, how it has been embedded into the club as well as presenting some feedback from participants who report experiencing a range of health and well-being benefits as a result of participant in the initiative.  

Dr Liz Simpson - ‘Menopause: a time for change. Physical Activity across the menopausal transition’

Physical activity (PA) in women declines with age.  Around the time of the menopause women experience a lot of physical, psychological, and social changes that may impact on their activity levels. This talk will look at PA in women across the lifespan, with a special focus on research looking at the peri and postmenopausal PA, exploring subtle differences and identified facilitators and barriers to meeting the PAG in women at midlife.

Dr Liz Simpson is a registered Health Psychologist (HCPC), a Chartered Psychologist (BPS), and a volunteer with The British Psychological Society (BPS). Liz has successfully taken on the role of Chair of the Division of Health Psychology Training Committee for the BPS and acted as a member of the BPS Partnership and Accreditation Committee for several years.

Liz is a Senior Lecturer at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, a member of the School of Psychology Research Institute and Chair of the Health, Education and Well-being RRG (2012-2018). She is interested in biological mechanisms and their interplay with psychological and social factors such as immune function and cognition, HRT use and psychological well-being during the menopausal transition.

Her research also focuses on public health issues and the use of theoretical models to understand health behaviours, contributing to the design and implementation of behaviour change interventions on dietary intake, physical activity, and e-cigarette use.

Liz has over 20 years’ experience of research in health psychology and has supervised several PhD projects investigating factors that contribute to health and wellbeing with age. She has published high quality papers on psychological well-being and health, presenting her work at national and international conferences. 

Barbara Bray MBE FIFST MSc

Barbara is a food and nutrition consultant and professional speaker who has given a TEDx talk ‘Diet, Diversity and the Future of Food’

She returned to full-time education at the age of 48 to become a PhD researcher on the Healthy Ageing Diet study at Queen’s University Belfast.

With a passion for educating people about food and nutrition, Barbara is the Co-Chair of the Oxford Farming Conference, the leading international conference held in the UK for farming and agribusiness. She is a member of the food and nutrition group at the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and is a trustee of the Nutrition Society.

A Registered Nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition, she has an MSc in Human Nutrition. She is a Fellow of the Institute for Food Science and Technology (IFST) with a BSc in Food Technology and an MSc in Postharvest Technology.

In 2017 she was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and travelled internationally to study vegetable production for specific nutritional need. In 2019 she was awarded an MBE for services to food nutrition. Her hobbies include open water swimming, strength training and yoga, and Barbara’s talk will showcase her personal experiences with the menopause.

Dr Marian McLaughlin

Marian McLaughlin is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Psychology at Ulster University. She is a Charted Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She is a member of the Division of Health Psychology (DHP) and Northern Ireland Branch of the Division of Health Psychology (DHPNI). 

Marian has over 20 years’ experience of conducting research in health psychology.

Her main research interests are in the area of health and well-being, in particular, theoretical applications for the design and evaluation of behavioural change interventions. Current projects and collaborations include: the design and evaluation of an HPV educational resource; testing the feasibility of including young people experiencing intellectual disability in health and wellbeing research; and theoretical investigations into the factors influencing oral health, e-cigarette use and decision making among women in menopausal transition.

She has attracted significant grant income receiving funding from the BBSRC/ESRC, the R&D Office, the Health Services Executive, Baily Thomas and the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke. 

Free for all attendees

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Joining instructions will be sent one week prior to the event, these will be sent to your BPS registered email address

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