New research published by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust today to mark the start of National School Sport Week at Home, shows that one consequence of weeks of lockdown has been that many young people now see sport and Physical Education as more important to their lives.
Families and schools across the country are set to put on their own virtual sports days and weeks as part of National School Sport Week at Home (20 to 26 June) in an effort to make up for the millions of young people missing out on a school sport day this summer.
The Youth Sport Trust has teamed up with Sky Sports on the campaign which is aiming to help young people capture the enjoyment, competition and camaraderie they have lost through missing regular sport.
Today’s new YouGov research, commissioned by the Youth Sport Trust, surveyed 1,396 young people aged 6 – 15 between 5 and 11 June on their feelings about coming out of lockdown. It found that for four in ten young people, not being able to take part in Physical Education, sport and exercise during the lockdown had made them feel worse.
Key findings from the research show that:
- Four in five children (80%) say they are worried about what happens as they come out of lockdown and return to schools, with girls (84%) more likely to have concerns than boys (77%)
- Among those who were worried, the ability to spend time with friends was most likely to be a concern, with 52% saying this was something they worried about
- Physical Education, sport and exercise had helped 27% of young people feel better during lockdown. But 40% said that not being able to take part in sport during lockdown was something that had made them feel worse
- 37% of young people say that they now consider Physical Education, sport and exercise to be more important to them than they did before lockdown
- 51% of young people – about 4 million - say they will now do more sport and exercise than they did before the lockdown
Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said:
Sport has such power to bring people together and to improve lives, even through the most difficult of times. As families and schools across the country prepare to put on their own school sport events as part of National School Sport Week at Home, this research offers a timely reminder of the important role that sport and Physical Education have to play in helping young people cope with the impact COVID-19 has had on their physical, social and emotional development.
Young people are telling us that they are missing their friends and worried about how they will be able to see them. Being active is one of the things that has helped them during lockdown and, perhaps as a result, many now see this as being more important and want to do more of it.
As we help young people to recover and start to establish a new normality, it will be vital that schools, families and sports clubs have the support and guidance they need to ensure all young people benefit from the positive impact good quality Physical Education and school sport brings to their wellbeing.
UK Government Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston MP said:
It's great that so many young people want to stay fit and active - whether it's doing online workouts at home or kicking a football around at the park. Sport and exercise is so important for our mental and physical health, and we're working hard to get children hitting the target of 60 active minutes a day.
I'm glad National School Sport Week is still taking place this year - albeit at home - and the Youth Sport Trust has come up with lots of ideas of how you can participate.
Education Minister Nick Gibb MP said:
Sport is a great way to keep fit and healthy, and has a positive impact on our mental health. The National School Sport Week at Home campaign is a good opportunity to find inspiration to exercise in new ways – developing confidence, self-discipline and teamwork whilst taking part.
“We want to ensure all children are staying active even during the pandemic, and schools can play a part even while children are at home. The Department’s list of high-quality resources for schools to use includes materials on providing PE and Sport. We have also asked schools to focus on physical exercise as more children do return to school.
“Returning to school is one of the best ways to provide children with more opportunities to be active, which is why it is our ambition that all pupils return to school in September.
Sky Sports Managing Director Rob Webster said:
At Sky Sports we are all passionate about sport and the power it has to unite people. National School Sport Week at Home will help inspire schoolteachers and families all across the country to help get children active. We are delighted to be able to help supercharge the campaign.
The Harper family have been in lockdown together since the start. They are living in Eastcote, London. One of the biggest challenges they have faced since school closures has been the reduction in school and team sports. Paige, 14, was doing five days a week of netball matches, training and competitions before lockdown and going from this to nothing has been hard for the family. Despite Paige not being able to do her netball and school sport, she has stayed motivated, keeping active every day. She has made online fitness videos part of her morning routine.
When Paige heard on the news about group exercise restrictions easing, she was so happy. Knowing her friends had lost motivation and dropped off from working out online, Paige took the initiative to bring them together to do netball drills and exercises in the park. She researched guidance from England Netball and the Government and talked to her PE teacher at Northwood School on how she could safely do this.
Paige and her friends were nervous at first, but once they started their planned session it all fitted together. Paige said seeing one another in person and connecting through sport has been the boost they needed. She is now looking forwards to National School Sport Week at Home and challenging her friends, family and netball team, The Falcons, to a range of activities both virtually and in community spaces.