Young people’s wellbeing at crisis point, annual PE and School Sport Report shows

Most political parties have published their manifestos ahead of the general election, and the Youth Sport Trust has released its annual PE and School Sport report, which finds young people’s wellbeing at crisis point.

The charity is calling for whoever forms the next government to take immediate action to unlock the power of physical activity to improve wellbeing by guaranteeing every child access to 60 active minutes a day of PE, sport and play.

Conclusions from the report include:

  • This generation’s wellbeing remains in crisis, with children and young people’s happiness at an all-time low
  • Physically active children have better mental, physical and social wellbeing, improved self-belief and mental toughness
  • Digital distractions mean seven in ten parents think their children are spending less time being active
  • Schools are struggling to deliver opportunities with declining PE teachers and PE hours
  • Deepening inequalities are disproportionately affecting girls, and children from lower income households

The report comes as over 4,000 schools across the country have signed up to participate in National School Sports Week, an annual campaign celebrating physical activity in schools and supported by British Olympic hero and Youth Sport Trust National School Sport Champion Sir Mo Farah.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Officer Ali Oliver MBE said: “The long-term consequences of COVID, the cost of living crisis, digital distractions and inactive lifestyles are together creating a damaging cocktail for children and young people. At the Youth Sport Trust we are deeply concerned about children’s wellbeing, and alongside other charities believe this should be a matter of national concern. We were encouraged to see consistent reference across the various manifestos launched this week to harnessing the power of play, sport and physical activity in tackling this, including protecting time for PE in the curriculum and increasing after-school sport.

“As our new PE and School Sport report sets out, urgent action is needed now. Currently less than half of children are achieving 60 active minutes a day as recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers, and shockingly as our new research shows, only a third of parents are even aware how active young people should be. Children’s happiness is at an all-time low, whilst loneliness and mental health disorders are on the rise. There is no time to waste, and we must pull on all the levers we have to help them today, and in turn, help the country in the longer term.

“Increasing physical activity levels is proven to support developing happier, healthier, and more successful children. Parents and carers, teachers and children all tell us they want to see a greater role for physical activity in schools and next week during National School Sports Week we will be championing the importance of being active in and around the school day and sharing examples of what can be achieved.

“Let’s start by guaranteeing every child access to 60 active minutes a day of PE, sport and play to help get upstream of the challenges this generation faces. Our message to whoever forms the next government is clear: let’s act on this momentum and unleash the power of physical activity to change lives and develop a generation that is happier and healthier.”

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