TEENAGERS are being encouraged to get fit and into fiction with the launch of a new initiative to use council services.

South Gloucestershire Council is trying to increase the number of teens who regularly visit the authority’s gyms and libraries by introducing a new active card loyalty scheme specifically for their age group.

The card will give free membership and access to libraries and leisure centres plus opportunities to receive up to date information on what’s happening in the local area.

It enables members to borrow books, CDs or gain internet access at libraries, have a swim or use the gym.

A pilot scheme with pupils at Yate International Academy, Brimsham Green School in Yate and Marlwood School in Alveston was launched at Yate Library on Monday (April 22), when youngsters were handed their active cards and canvas bags by council chairman Cllr Janet Biggin (Con, Downend).

Jon Bell, deputy head at Brimsham Green School, said: "Brimsham Green School is passionate about promoting literacy across the entire school with all students, so it is natural that we would want to be part of an exciting project such as the active card.

"We believe that developing the whole student is incredibly important, and wanted to participate in the active card scheme because it provides all our students with opportunities to access sport and leisure across South Gloucestershire."

Marlwood headteacher Keith Geary said: "We are thrilled to be taking part in this pilot scheme. Our students have been given a key to gain access to a wide range of library, sports and leisure facilities.

"We hope they will use their active cards to unlock a variety of leisure time activities to build a healthy mind and body. It is well documented that students who read for pleasure achieve higher academic success than those of similar ability who do not read."

The cards have been given to all 3,000 students at the three schools, and it is hoped that by having membership it will increase students' participation in reading and sporting activities.

If the pilot is successful it is planned to extend the scheme to all secondary schools in South Gloucestershire.