BLOG: How sport can unite us all

The Jo Cox Foundation is teaming up with the Youth Sport Trust to tackle loneliness among all ages, Jo's sister Kim Leadbeater writes a guest blog ahead of National School Sport Week

Next weekend would have been Jo’s 44th birthday. We’ll be honouring her memory with a huge, nationwide celebration of what brings us together.

Last year we came up with the idea for the Great Get Together and the response was incredible. Millions all over the country joined together to celebrate everything we have in common, holding street parties and community events. Since then I’ve heard so many heart-warming stories of people making new friends, socialising with neighbours for the first time and even setting up new community groups.

We’re hoping this year’s Great Get Together, from 22 June to 24 June will be even bigger.

The Great Get Together can be whatever you want it to be – from being together to watch the football, putting on a picnic, to organising an event for the whole neighbourhood. It’s an opportunity to do something positive which doesn’t need to be a big effort or cost anything – you might need nothing more than a picnic blanket in the park and a bit of bunting.

With the World Cup underway there’s bound to be a sporting flavour to this year’s celebrations. And I’m delighted that we’re this year joining up with the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week, which runs from 25 June to 29 June.

The work of the Jo Cox foundation is all about bringing people together and tackling loneliness. Play and sport have a huge role to play in this – tackling isolation and uniting people of different ages and backgrounds all over the world.

At a time when we are seeing young people battling with childhood obesity, exam pressures, loneliness and peer pressure, the benefits that play and sport can bring have never been needed more.

Campaigns like National School Sport Week can really help us educate young people that play and sport are about so much more than sporting skills and trophies.

We’re delighted that the government, including the DfE, and local councils are supporting us in all kinds of ways. Jo was in politics to make a difference, but she always believed that it was by connecting with real people where they live, work, learn and play is the best way to overcome hatred and prejudice and bring us all closer together.

I worked in Higher Education and I’m now a fitness instructor. So I know a little bit about the benefits of getting young people off their phones and devices and doing things together.

The Great Get Together has shown us that there is a groundswell of people who reject divisive politics and simply want to bring our communities together and celebrate all that unites us.

So over next weekend, I really hope you will join us in celebrating that we all have #MoreinCommon – whether it’s through sport, food, street parties or anything else you enjoy.

The Great Get Together takes place from 22 to 24 June 2018. You can sign up here: https://www.greatgettogether.org

National School Sport Week runs from 25 June to 29 June. Parents and schools can sign up here: https://www.youthsporttrust.org/national-school-sport-week

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