Majority of children not active enough
Sir, – Further to Tim O’Brien’s article “Majority of children not active enough” (News, September 27th), it is heartening to see some positive findings related to children’s physical activity levels reported. Nevertheless, the stark finding in the Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity (CSPPA) report (Woods, et al, 2018) that only 17 per cent of children in primary schools are meeting the daily recommendation of one hour of physical activity underlines the increasing challenge for policymakers, parents, teachers, sports coaches and others. It is clear that our children are not active enough, and many have responsibility to make changes that can impact on the opportunities provided for children. Working together to achieve this has long been agreed as a positive step.
Nevertheless, as almost all children attend primary schools and early-years settings, it is clear that these settings demand particular attention. Here children can develop the fundamental movement skills or building blocks to ensure that they are well prepared to engage in a variety of physical activities and increase the likelihood of enjoying physical activity and sport into the future. One key action that must result is the provision of meaningful support for teachers in primary schools (and those in the early-years sector) to ensure that they can offer children quality physical education lessons. Working with groups of children usually two or three times the size of a typical sports club group requires considerable skill, content and pedagogical knowledge. Teachers deserve the support to continue to do what they are doing in physical education lessons, to build on this and to offer more physical education lessons in their schools to meet the well-established needs of children.
The need for increased physical activity by young children demands urgent action. There is some cheer as the pages of the CSPPA report are turned. The benefits of investment are evident – more children need to be more active, more often. More is needed urgently. – Yours, etc,