Start young stay active
The Start Young, Stay Active report brings together aspects of the current academic consensus regarding physical literacy in children, as well as practical areas where parents, teachers and legislators can work together to re-kindle the relationship between physical activityand childhood.
It also calls on government to recognise the unique position of parents in sustaining an active household and to implement programmes which enable new parents to have the knowledge and support to do this.
The challenge is so great that it is essential that the home becomes the focus for positive early experiences of physical activity.
Background to the report
There is a declining standard of fitness amongst young people across the United Kingdom, leaving a generation of children who are less fit than their parents, and at a higher risk of several cardiorespiratory conditions.
This is alongside new information released by ukactive in its report, Turning the tide of inactivity, where the picture of adult inactivity in the UK was laid bare for the first time. Turning the tide made practical and realistic recommendations on how councils and leisure providers could work together to tackle the issue. This is a first step, but only concerns adults; equally large-scale actions need to be demonstrated for children’s fitness to ensure that the next generation is more familiar with exercise than the previous.
Although central and local governments are beginning to look closely at ways to reduce the inactive population and re-embed physical activity into the DNA of the nation, there remains a lack of options for children and young people. Large groups of children continue to grow up without a good grasp of basic motor skills required for physical activity, which can lead to a lifelong absence of exercise. This paper brings together aspects of the current academic consensus regarding levels of fitness in children, as well as practical areas where parents, teachers and legislators can work together to re-kindle the relationship between physical activity and childhood. All of this comes under the umbrella of Set4Sport, which continues to support and inform parents who want their children to be active but are unaware of ways they can go about it.
Above all, it is essential to the future health of the nation that a physical education is given the same emphasis as other aspects of education. Rather than being solely focused around the school, new government policy should include physical education as part of the homework curriculum, thereby involving parents as well as children themselves in learning to be active.