Sport for Confidence CIC have teamed up with a PhD student from the University of Essex to explore the impact of the social enterprise’s national systems partnership with Sport England. 
Jointly funded through Essex’s School of Health and Social Care and Sport for Confidence, Erica De La Garza joined the Sport for Confidence team in January 2024, arriving in Essex from the United States, where she will be located throughout the term of her three-year tenure. 
The PhD Studentship follows Erica’s successful completion of a master’s degree in public health from Boston University and enables her to follow her academic interest in program evaluation, epidemiology, and biostatistics. 
“This is an incredible opportunity for me, personally to continue my professional development journey but also for Sport for Confidence to explore the implementation and impact of a national systems partnership on tackling health inequalities through physical activity,” says Erica. 
“As part of my master’s degree I conducted an epidemiology research study focused on adults diagnosed with Down syndrome and it was through this work that I heard about this UK-based PhD.” 
Erica will be fully integrated into Sport for Confidence, reporting into CEO and Founder Lyndsey Barrett, supported by Liz Fletcher, Occupational Therapist and National Team Lead, working as part of the organisation to support a culture of collecting and utilising data to promote learning and inform practice. 
Research findings will be submitted to recognised health journals and presented at national and international research conferences focused on public health, occupational therapy, and sport and exercise science. Reports will also be drafted and discussed with Sport England to further the national systems partnership. 
Lyndsey Barrett, Sport for Confidence Founder and Lead Occupational Therapist says: “Analysing the impact of our strategic decisions is hugely important to the future success and growth of our organisation and has always been an integral part of our process at all levels of the business. 
“Working with Erica and the University of Essex will not only help us to gain a deeper understanding of the value our Sport England partnership delivers but will also enable us to share findings with other systems partners, extending the learnings and ultimately driving greater success across physical activity, health and social care sectors.” 
Whilst Erica conducts her work through Sport for Confidence, she will join an active cohort of doctorial students at the University of Essex. She will also be able to lean on the expertise of academics, such as supervisors Dr Anna Pettican, from the School of Health and Social Care, and Dr Paul Freeman and Dr Andrew Brinkley, from the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Science. 
Erica began her PhD in January 2024 and will work, full time, whilst based in the UK, with the ambition to conclude her studies by the end of 2026. 
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