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Could full-time students be given Active gym discounts?

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THE possibility of Jersey’s full-time students being offered discounted Active Card gym and sports facility memberships is being explored by the States.

Les Quennevais playing fields

Presently Islanders under the age of 18 can use Active Card facilities, which include the Fort Regent, Les Quennevais and Springfield sports centres, under their parents’ memberships for a cost of £8 per month.

But when they reach the age of 18 they are required to pay the full £39 for their monthly membership, whether they enter full-time employment or not.

Brendan Carolan, president of the National Education Union, recently wrote to a number of ministers to request that the policy is reviewed for full-time students, who often end up paying more for their Active Card than many working adults.

‘Many parents do not actually pay the full individual rate of £39 because they have taken advantage of the many corporate discounts schemes that are available, such as the one that exists for all States employees,’ he said.

‘How can it ever be considered justifiable for a student in full-time education to be paying more in gym membership than their parent who is in full-time employment?’

Mr Carolan said that as a psychology teacher he could quote ‘infinite studies’ that indicate regular exercise improves mental health and wellbeing.

He added that many sixth form students have told him they are ‘frustrated’ at having to pay the full membership rate to continue using Active Card facilities when they turn 18.

Senator Steve Pallett, the assistant minister in Economic Development with responsibility for sport, said he had asked for the matter to be reviewed.

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‘I do not agree that it is grossly unfair that when reaching 18 someone should be charged the full membership rate, especially if they are employed,’ he said.

‘But having considered the current situation, I do believe that if someone is in full -time education (i.e. at Highlands College) then a reduced membership fee could be offered and I have asked officers to look into the options.

‘It would have to be set at a reasonable rate when considering other preferential rates we offer, for example for over-65s.’

He added: ‘Nobody is questioning the importance of exercise for all our population, including children and young adults, and I do not believe that our current pricing structure is in any way damaging the physical or mental health of these groups.

‘It’s important that we take on board all concerns and, as I say, we will look carefully at what we can offer to those who continue in full-time education.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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