By Dean Horridge, CEO of Fit For Sport
The state of our children’s health has never been worse. The threat to their future has never been greater. In some areas of the UK, as many as 40% of primary school children are overweight or obese. One in five children do NO physical activity at school. Our young generation is at risk of dying at a younger age than their parents.
That is simply not acceptable.
I’ve been working with schools and children for over 25 years. I started Fit For Sport to help keep kids active in the school holidays. They were active at school but lazy in the holidays. Now they’re not even active at school. According to the health survey for England 2015, one in five children do no sport or physical activity at school each week. Half of seven year olds fail to meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 60 daily active minutes. And if we took the least fit child in a class of thirty tested in 1998 they would be one of the five fittest children in a class of the same age tested today.
As a father of three kids aged 10, 11 and 13, I am beyond frustrated that no-one at their schools can tell me how fit my kids are. I know how good they are at spelling, maths, English, geography and science. I know how punctual they are and how many days they’ve been off ill. But I don’t know how active they are at school. And the reason no-one can tell me is no one is tracking it or keeping a record.
And that inspired me to create the Healthy Active Schools System which launched on January 31st with the support of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. I did my research. I asked schools if they would use a tracking system if it was given to them. Yes, they said. And would their parents like a School Sport Report? Yes, they said (in fact our research shows 90% of parents would welcome this).
So, I created the Healthy Active Schools System as an easy-to-install, quick to use free online resource for schools. It integrates into the schools’ systems – uploading class lists, kids’ names and other data at the touch of a button. Teachers can see child by child, class by class and year by year how everyone in the school is doing. And they can pull off a School Sport Report for parents.
To set the benchmark, children simply do our Activity Challenge – three exercises involving catching, jumping and running – and teachers input their first set of results. Then we advise schools on some simple measures to boost physical activity in their school. At half termly or termly intervals, the children do the Activity Challenge again. Their results are uploaded and progress noted.
That’s it! But that’s enough to measure, track, monitor, evaluate and report on our children’s fitness. The Government, Public Health England and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health are ALL calling for some form of measurement, analysis, recording of children’s activity. Well here it is. All done, ready to go, free to use. Any schools struggling to implement physical activity can use any number of our free resources to kick start their programme. There are simply no barriers.
Change will come from partnerships. We have started the ball rolling with the creation of the Healthy Active Schools System. We are giving this free to all schools: now we need schools, parents, local councils, government and fitness industry partners to get behind this with us and drive it forwards.
Let’s do it. Starting today. Let’s rise to the challenge and make change happen.
Are you in?