Responding to Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People report, Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said:
“This research should serve as an urgent wake-up call for anyone who cares about young people’s wellbeing. It confirms what we have known for some time and cuts to the heart of YST’s mission - too many young people are missing out on the life-changing benefits of sport and play, particularly girls and those from less affluent backgrounds.
The absence of a gap between activity levels of young people with and without disabilities is an encouraging sign of what can be achieved. But when fewer than one in five young people are meeting the recommended 60 minutes every day, it is clear that much more needs to be done.
“Beyond the worrying news about participation, the association this research reveals between physical activity and young people’s mental wellbeing, resilience and personal development must not be lost. Young people who are active are more likely to feel happy.
“Through a combination of the digital age, changing lifestyles and a worrying decline in Physical Education the odds are stacked against young people enjoying the benefits of an active lifestyle. Our own research has shown that 38% of English secondary schools cut the amount of PE on the timetable in the five years after 2012.
“We need a radical shift in our approach to Physical Education and youth sport and a long-term, joined-up and ambitious approach to unlocking the benefits of sport and play for all young people. This must be the aim of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan due to be published by government next year.
“The annual publication of this research by Sport England is an important step forward in gaining a true picture of young people’s engagement in sport and physical activity. We look forward to exploring this data in more detail and would urge government, local authorities and schools to act on the challenges highlighted in this report.”
To read the full report visit Sport England's website here.