Five-point plan to address a national activity crisis

The Youth Sports Trust has partnered with the Association for Physical Education and Oak National Academy to create a virtual core physical education curriculum and on Wednesday is calling on the government to accelerate a national school physical education plan.

support telegraph sports‘s campaign, the Youth Sports Trust also stressed that daily physical activity is “vital” for children in the coming weeks. “We know that young people’s activity levels have fallen during the first lockdown and this has contributed to some of the problems they are now facing – from mental health issues and low physical fitness to developmental delays,” said Managing Director Ali Oliver.

“This current crisis has made all the more urgent the need for a long-term national strategy to tackle inactivity and the decline in well-being of young people through sport and improved sport governance. Schools have done so much over the past 10 months to overcome impossible challenges to keep kids safe and learnable. A recreation-focused virtual physical education curriculum should be a priority in the coming weeks. This could fundamentally change the well-being of young people.”

Industry leaders have also highlighted the vast expertise and diversity of online resources within the sector and called on the government to create a central resource that would provide activities for parents as well as advice on local outdoor recreation tools. “This needs to be a one-stop virtual center,” said Dr. Chris Mackintosh, Lecturer in Sport Development at Manchester Metropolitan University. Alan Watkinson, Sir Mo Farah’s former PE teacher who is still working in London schools, stressed the immediate need for a working group to “gather and disseminate the outstanding practices and resources that are currently being produced”.

After the government prioritized the opening of pubs and restaurants when lockdown measures were eased last year, telegraph sports calls for sport and activity for children to be the priority this year. When schools reopen, perhaps before the Easter and Summer semesters, this must also be accompanied by a concerted plan that puts the huge benefits of sport and physical activity at the heart of the curriculum.

Former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio and Paralympics legend Tanni Grey-Thompson want school sports facilities in both the private and government sectors to be available to children over the Easter and summer holidays if Covid restrictions allow. “Independent schools should be required to open their facilities to the public for a specified period of time if they want nonprofit status,” Dallaglio said. “They have these amazing sports facilities which unfortunately are closed most of the year. It is a tragedy that so many of the best sports grounds are closed during the school holidays.” Children from disadvantaged areas of the country were found to have been disproportionately affected by the drop in activity levels during the first lockdown.

The Prime Minister also came under mounting pressure on Tuesday night to mitigate the “unthinkable” impact of restrictions on children’s outdoor activities.

Both Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, and the campaign group Playing Out are calling on ministers to urgently adopt the Scottish model, which exempts children under 12 from restrictions on sport.

In a letter to Downing Street, 13 academics and youth protection campaigners wrote that “children’s mental and physical health have already suffered tremendously and the potential impact of another prolonged period without school or normal social interaction is unthinkable”.

In addition to the looser Scottish rules, the Welsh Government has said children are allowed to play outside close to home. In England, on the other hand, the authors write, “there is currently no clarity for parents as to whether informal outdoor play is allowed in public spaces under lockdown”.

“Together with the Children’s Commissioner for England we are therefore calling on the UK Government to provide clear and unequivocal guidance that outdoor play is permitted during lockdown,” wrote lead authors Alice Ferguson and Ingrid Skeels of Playing Out. The activists expressed their renewed support telegraph sports‘s Keep Kids Active campaign.

What parents can do to maintain their physical and mental health

The government is under mounting pressure to develop a children’s activity plan after access to all grassroots sports was wiped out by the third lockdown. Amid warnings of a ticking time bomb of childhood obesity and anxiety, here telegraph sports examines how families can try to keep their children active over the next six weeks:

What is allowed in terms of children’s physical activity?

While children under the age of 12 in Scotland are protected by legislation that ensures play and sport can continue, children in England and Wales have to abide by blanket restrictions on outdoor exercise. Confusion and dismay among parents is the lack of information about children and exercise in the official ‘National Lockdown Guidance’ which states: ‘You can continue to exercise alone, with another person or with your household or support bubble’.

The instructions add that “you can exercise outdoors in a public place,” in a “childcare bubble where children are being cared for,” or “if you’re alone, with someone from another household.”

The setback comes after outdoor sports were banned under the age of 18 telegraph sports‘s Keep Kids Active campaign last fall.

However, Tuesday’s ministerial meeting agreed that the pardon could no longer apply as the threat level was raised to the most severe level while the new virus variant raged.

Where can my children play?

There is a much-needed respite for playgrounds, which were initially banned during the first lockdown last spring. Also on the list of permitted outdoor locations are “parks, beaches, landscapes open to the public, forests, public gardens (regardless of whether you pay to enter or not) and a cultural heritage site”.

dr Chris Mackintosh, Lecturer in Sport Development at Manchester Metropolitan University, says the challenges parents face in the winter months are greater than ever. However, he says families can still “meet young people’s basic needs” if they carefully plan for going outdoors.

“The added benefits of getting outside are significant, and a break from screen time for mom or dad is another mental and physical health bonus,” he said. “Exploring nature in cities can be difficult, but towpaths, cycle paths and canals can be incorporated into the daily curriculum at home.”

How do the experts suggest inspiring my child?

“It’s important to remember that children are not ‘mini-adults’,” says Jack Shakespeare, director of children, families and research at ukactive. “Children and young people are often motivated by different things – the focus is on having fun and enjoying movement.”

According to Mackintosh, the “first five minutes of physical activity are crucial.” “It’s the ‘golden window’ to make sure it’s fun, it’s engaging, and you turn off your phone,” he says.

dr Laura Gale and Dr. Leanne Staniford, specialist in active environments and behavior change, encourages families to set aside time on the calendar to “get outside and exercise together, rather than stay at home and rely on a screen.”

Parents are encouraged to set “activity challenges” such as a number of jumps to collect. Other tips include visiting different local green spaces so that walking or cycling are not repetitive. “Finding objects around the house that will be useful for fitness classes” and “Connecting with your child’s friends online”.

What online resources are there?

Once again, Joe Wicks is easing the strain by restarting his live “GYM Lessons” on his YouTube channel starting Monday.

The 34-year-old already set a Guinness World Record with nearly a million people tuning in live to watch a class last year. Now that the temperatures are dropping, his indoor classes will likely be more popular than ever.

The Youth Sport Trust also says it is “here to support schools, parents and carers every step of the way by providing resources, guidance and the dissemination of practical ideas and innovative content”. A virtual after-school sports club is one of the initiatives on the charity’s website (

Campaigners also hope some of the better-resourced independent schools will open their online classes to all students. The NHS has launched an activity page ‘Change4life’ with a variety of suggestions for indoor and outdoor fitness activities. Five-point plan to address a national activity crisis

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