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ukactive has issued the following statement in response to the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey published by Sport England this week

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “It is positive to see the percentage of active children and young people reach the levels seen before the pandemic. This is testament to the hard work that our members, schools, communities and families have done post-pandemic to create the opportunities for children to be active.

“The survey makes clear the link between physical activity and mental wellbeing, as well as the importance of physical literacy. It is crucial that we continue to increase and diversify the opportunities and environments for children and young people to participate in fun, safe and inclusive activities.

“Active play was one of the key drivers of the increase in activity levels – something which our members support inside and outside of the school day. Projects such as ukactive’s Open Doors initiative, are key to promoting this in the long-term, particularly in under-served communities.

“However, just as we get back to the levels of activity we saw before the pandemic, we are facing another crisis. Rising energy costs could have a potentially catastrophic impact on the gyms, pools and leisure centres that are crucial to this recovery.

“Already, 72% of primary schools rely on pools in the community to provide swimming lessons to children, and with the sector facing huge rises in energy costs, if no further government support is offered from April 2023, many of these pools will close. As swimming among children and young people continues to struggle to recover post-pandemic, this would prove devastating.

ukactive continues to work closely with the Government in supporting children and young people’s activity, including the ‘Opening School Facilities’ and ‘Holiday Activities and Food’ programmes. But more needs to be done, such as providing long-term funding for the PE and School Sport Premium and ensuring inclusive physical activity is properly reflected in the school curriculum.

While this report shows a positive recovery from COVID-19, the Government must ensure it works proactively with the sector to continue to make strides on increasing activity levels across all groups and communities.”