According to latest research nearly a third of children today aged two to 15 are classed as overweight or obese and younger generations are experiencing childhood obesity at earlier stages
Just last month, the government launched its latest chapter of the childhood obesity strategy, with statistics also revealing that only 20% of girls and 23% of boys aged five to 15 are active for at least an hour daily.
The report itself has received mixed reviews, with the likes of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, ukactive and the Youth Sport Trust stating that the strategy doesn’t go far enough to mention how to get children more physically active.
In fact, there is no mention of physical activity within the 33-page report until page 27. However, the report does highlight that there is a greater need to provide all children with at least hour of physical activity a day and to improve the co-ordination of quality sport and physical activity programmes for schools.
With this in mind, Ellen Rowles from Action PR looks at how fitness and leisure providers can in fact provide schools and communities with support to create long term, sustainable change for our children.
Supporting local schools through sport
The majority of schools in England with primary-age pupils receive funding known as a school sport premium to help improve the provision of the sport delivered. The funding should be used to develop or add to the PE and sport activities that schools already offer or make improvements that will benefit pupils joining the school in future years.
For instance, schools can use this funding to hire qualified coaching staff to work alongside teachers, upskill their existing staff or to introduce sports to a new audience.
To support local primary schools, leading leisure operator Everyone Active has launched a variety of schemes to ensure they can make sport more accessible and affordable.
Duncan Jefford, Regional Director for Everyone Active said: “We have partnered with Great Britain Olympic gold medallist Alex Danson to launch a hockey academy for children aged 7-11 and we’ve also teamed up with the Hertfordshire Mavericks to launch a series of netball camps.
“As part of both initiatives we are also upskilling school teachers to become qualified coaches so that they can deliver sessions outside of the camps and to bring sessions back into school.”
The Alex Danson Hockey Academy aims to engage 10,000 children with hockey over the next three years.
Similarly, the Hertfordshire Mavericks partnership wants to get an additional 20,000 girls and women partaking in some form of netball-related activity over the next three years.
Since launching in May last year, the Alex Danson Hockey Academy has engaged over 2000 children through primary school delivery, hockey festivals and holiday camps.
In the 2017/18 academic year, the Academy delivered Afterschool Hockey Clubs for children in Year 3 – Year 6 (aged 7-11) and ran Hockey PE lessons offering assistance and support to teachers delivering the sessions.
Swimming is another area where some state sector schools struggle. “Unfortunately, the reality is that nearly 2,000 primary schools in the UK do not offer any swimming lessons and there’s over a quarter of a million children every year that finish primary school and can’t swim 25 meters” added Jefford.
As a result, Jefford said that Everyone Active is allowing access to swimming lessons at a more affordable rate to help break down the price barrier facing many British schools.
One issue facing schools is the cost of transport for children from school to a leisure centre with a pool, so Jefford said Everyone Active is working with coach companies to find ways to make transportation more affordable.
Physical Activity is Not Just About Sport
However, it’s not just about providing more opportunities to children through sport, as not every child enjoys the competitive element. It’s about creating lifelong habits through movement and physical activity.
To help ensure children are getting at least one hour of activity per day, global fitness company Les Mills has teamed up with nationally-accredited activator Sports Leaders UK to launch a new partnership, which will support schools and a new generation of children, parents and carers to be physically active through the love of movement.
The programme is supported by leadership training for teachers and pupils to create advocacy in schools for the benefits of physical activity.
Pioneering schools are now piloting a new Netflix-style platform, which offers fun-filled classes to inspire kids of all ages and abilities to be active. The BORN TO MOVE™ virtual screen-based classes incorporates a range of movement patterns – including Strength, Stretching, Martial Arts, Core, Dance, Yoga and mindfulness – designed to support physical literacy, confidence and self-esteem.
The progressive classes are ‘for kids by kids’ with trained pupils leading their peers. Tailored for age groups ranging from 4 up to 16-years-old, the sessions feature music hand-picked by their peers.
Justine Williams, Global Business Development Manager, Les Mills said: “helping schools shape positive physical habits for the next generation of children is our passion.
“Young people have a natural appetite for movement and play and our mission is to help them enjoy the energy, confidence and good health that goes with it. BORN TO MOVE, alongside our partnership with Sport Leaders UK can make this happen.”
The programme will also promote physical activity beyond the school gates by providing free taster classes for families to be active together at home via Les Mills On Demand.
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