Improving mental and physical wellbeingYST Improving mental and physical wellbeing
Young people’s mental wellbeing decreases as they get older. Sport England’s Active Lives — Children and Young People report shows that when asked to rank happiness out of 10, average scores reduce significantly as young people get older:
- Average score of 7.9 for ages 7-9
- Average score of 6.2 for ages 13-16
Nearly a quarter of children in England are obese or overweight by the time they start primary school aged five, and this rises to one third by the time they leave at the age of 11, the National Child Measurement Programme shows.
Sport England’s Active Lives report found a positive association between engagement in sport and physical activity and levels of mental wellbeing. Evidence shows that physical activity can improve physical, mental and social wellbeing. Active children are more likely to become active adults, and therefore less likely to suffer the consequences of ill health.
Programme: Girls Active
Girls are significantly more likely to be inactive than boys. Since 2013 Girls Active has helped identify the barriers to girls participating in physical activity and supported teachers to work with the girls to overcome them by working together to improve their PE, sport and physical activity provision.
In 2017 the programme expanded into primary schools through Stepping Up for Change. This sees secondary school aged girls trained to become role models who engage primary school pupils in physical activity. Initial evaluation shows this is increasing the capacity of schools to engage girls. Where activities had been running for a while, teachers are seeing the confidence, resilience and motivation of the Girls Active leaders develop.
- 21,422 young people reached
- 286 schools worked with
- 323 teachers trained
- 94% of secondary Girls Active leaders felt they could inspire other girls to be more active after receiving training
- 92% of primary Girls Active leaders felt more enthusiastic about being active
- 91% of teachers said they were inspired to make changes in the way PE was delivered in their schools.
Case study: Girls Active
Cariad Lucas (16), from Great Marlow School in Buckinghamshire won the Girls Active Award for Leader of the Year and the Girls Leadership and Marketing Squad (GLAM) group award. She led a transformation of physical activity for girls in her school and three local primary schools and helped set up an after-school Girls Active club.
She said: “Girls Active has changed me as a person; I am more confident and have been on an incredible journey which I only hope will continue. I have received countless opportunities to test myself and try new things, made new friends and inspired new girls. For all of that I can only say thank you to everyone involved.”
Programme: Active in Mind
Active in Mind focuses on improving children’s mental health. The project has seen 250 young people, aged 15 to 18, act as mentors to 750 young people experiencing mental wellbeing issues, supporting them in becoming physically active. These mentors are in turn supported by a lead adult Wellbeing Champion.
- 78% of mentees reported that the project had increased the amount of physical activity they did in an average week
- 56% of mentors stated they were much more active by the end of the project
- 68% of mentees agreed that they now felt more confident talking to others than they did before taking part in the project
- 63% of mentees agreed that they now felt more confident meeting new people
- 70% agreed they had become more confident
- 71% felt more relaxed
- 61% said since taking part, they felt they were coping better.
Case study: Active in Mind
King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, empowered Year 11 mentors to create, design and implement a range of mental health interventions for a nurture group of Year 7 and 8 students recruited by the school’s pastoral leaders. It contained students with low to moderate-level mental health issues. The nurture group worked well alongside older students and grew in confidence, with the mentors accountable for tangible targets.
Year 11 pupil Finn McGoochan, who became a mentor, said: “Mental health can have such a damaging effect on students, and this project aimed to tackle it. It was hard at first, as the nurture group were very nervous, but by our second session they had become used to us and really had fun with some of our ideas.”