Members of Youth Board participate in Children’s Commissioner roundtable

The roundtable on youth sport and physical activity was hosted by the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza

The roundtable brought together young people and voices from a range of sectors including local government, sport and physical activity and government departments, to explore how to increase activity levels by empowering more children and young people to be active on a daily basis.

Our Youth Board led a discussion based on their own experiences, highlighting the benefits associated with being physically active and reinforming the importance of key themes:

  • Being included – giving all children and young people opportunities to be involved in PE, sport and play regardless of their background or circumstances
  • Being active – exploring how physical activity, including sport, can cater to young people’s needs and provide meaningful opportunities for development and growth
  • Being heard – emphasising the importance of amplifying young people’s voices and perspectives in shaping policies and practice

Youth Board representatives shared the transformative impact physical and sport has had on their lives. Saif spoke about his experience as an asylum seeker in Wigan and how he found a sense of belonging and purpose through the Wigan Youth Zone. Through sport, he found a platform to make connections, develop as a leader and become a role model to other young people, inspiring them to follow in his footsteps.

Joel emphasised the role that physical activity can play in promoting positive physical, social and mental wellbeing. This included highlighting how physical activity can be a tool for teaching resilience, supporting mental health and building essential life skills for the future. All contributors urged policy makers to prioritise physical activity and sport in schools to improve wellbeing.

Finally, Abbie used the experience of her own journey through sport to call for quality inclusive experiences for all young people in schools, regardless of their circumstances. Active schools should deliver inclusive sport to make sure everyone is included and has the opportunity to access the benefits associated with being active - no-one should feel left out.

The roundtable was part of a programme being delivered by the Children’s Commissioner aligned to the Big Ambition survey, which asked children and young people what they think are the most important issues for this generation ahead of the forthcoming general election. Around the room, there was a consensus that physical activity is essential and a determination to encourage policy makers and political leaders to ensure all children can access the benefits of active lives.

Having youth leaders such as our Youth Board play an integral role in advocacy and engagement is vital if we are to develop and deliver policies that can achieve change. As a children’s charity, the Youth Sport Trust strongly believes that conversations about young people must be informed and led by youth voices. We are incredibly grateful to the Children Commissioner and her team for empowering our Youth Board to share their stories and look forward to working together to support more children to be physically active through PE, sport and play.

Published on 15 February 2024