The Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust (DMAT) recently unveiled its new cardiovascular gym suite at Okehampton College which it hopes will encourage more young people to get active.

DMAT’s community team were successful in their applications to access grants, focusing on opening school facilities to the community after the pandemic. The grants were lottery funded and delivered by Active Devon, a non-profit organisation which focuses on supporting and encouraging the people living in Devon to get involved in physical activities.

Town councillor and OCRA trustee Christine Marsh, OCRA general manager Ian Blythe, members of DMAT and an Active Devon representative attended the event where Okehampton College students showed off the new machines.

Cllr Marsh said: ‘It’s good for the young people to get more active. There were kids [at the event] who wouldn’t have been [exercising] otherwise.’

In a partnership with Okehampton College and community group, Okehamption Community and Recreation Association (OCRA), DMAT were able to receive reconditioned gym equipment to be used in a new cardiovascular suite.

It is hoped that the new suite will provide children with more opportunities to get involved in sport and exercise outside the school day and encourage those students who dislike PE to get more active.

Derrick Brett, executive director of civic leadership at DMAT and organiser of the grant application, said: ‘We are most grateful to Active Devon for their support in developing this facility which will be valuable to both college and the work of the OCRA in the community.’

The suite will currently only be available to Okehampton College students and OCRA clubs, which need to book a time slot to use the gym throughthe OCRA website.

OCRA will be supervising use of the equipment and plans to work with the Primary Care Network in the near future to provide extra classes for members of the public which will include prescribed gym sessions for people referred to the Primary Care Network.

Mr Blythe said: ‘The money was to open facilities after covid and give more opportunities to get kids more active.

‘It’s one of those projects where everything falls into place. We’ve already had a meeting about how we can offer prescribed classes for those who don’t want to do it in a traditional gym.

‘It will also give clubs who access OCRA  the chance to use the suite. The key thing is they have the equipment.’

OCRA is a local charity that provides sporting and recreational activities to Okehampton residents and those living in the surrounding area.

‘It delivers over one thousand sessions a year which include activities such as football, horse riding and dance.

The charity also offers activities for people with disabilities and even runs a regular social event for those with dementia.

DMAT runs 18 schools across the West Devon and Dartmoor area including Okehampton College. The academy trust also runs Okehampton Primary School, St James C of E Primary School, and Okehampton’s new special educational needs school, the Promise School.