General Election: All political parties must explain how they will unlock physical activity in young people, says sports trust

Charity Youth Sport Trust (YST) has said too many children and young people today are inactive, resulting in them being unhappier, unhealthier and more distracted than previous generations. This demands an urgent response.

Commenting on the general election, CEO of the YST, Ali Oliver MBE, said: “The run-up to the general election on July 4 provides an opportunity for all political parties to put the needs of children and young people front and centre of the policy debate.

“The next government should take a proactive approach to tackling the wellbeing crisis facing children and young people, focussing particularly on the role of play and sport in fostering fun, friendship and lifeskills, getting children away from screens and enabling positive engagement in school.”

Youth Sport Trust know children who are physically active on a regular basis have better mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Not only can increasing activity levels develop children who are happier, healthier and ready to learn, but in doing so YST can help address challenges in education around persistent absence, attainment and behaviour whilst also providing opportunities to develop key skills for life including communication, teamwork and leadership.

Every child should have the opportunity to be active for 60 minutes a day, through physical education (PE), sport and play, as recommended by the UK’s chief medical officers. 

Earlier this year, Youth Sport Trust’s manifesto for action – developed with contributions from children and young people, teachers and school leaders, and representatives from youth, health and wellbeing, physical activity and sport organisation – set out how to deliver the systemic change needed to make this a reality.

The manifesto called for a new, long-term joined-up national plan, guaranteeing every child access to 60 minutes a day of PE, sport and play. Underpinned by investment and supported by a campaign to raise awareness of recommended activity levels, this plan should:

  • Develop a nationally coordinated school sport network made up of local delivery teams
  • Introduce a new national wellbeing measurement for children, to track progress and target interventions
  • Protect and increase spaces for play and physical activity in every locality, and provide co-curricular sport for all children
  • Reimagine PE, making it a core subject developing physically literate children, healthy learners and active citizens
  • Formalise existing youth sport leadership opportunities into a national young sport volunteers programme delivering year-round social action.

Parents, teachers and children across the country are resolute in their belief that increasing opportunities to be physically active is vital for this and future generations.

During this election campaign, the trust says political parties must rise to the challenge and set out how they will unlock the power of physical activity to put young people’s wellbeing first and build a brighter future for every child.

Partnerships manager at Liverpool School Sports Partnership (LSSP), Jimmy McGinn, said: “It is the responsibility of all political parties to ensure the needs of children and young people are championed and that positive change is brought about.

“Physical activity and exercise play a vital role in a child’s development physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. Frequent participation in sports supports children in acquiring life-long skills that will benefit them beyond the classroom.

“At LSSP, we are passionate about advocating for the needs of young people and championing a system where they are supported to live happy, healthy and active lives.”

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