The Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week 2019 took part 24-28 June and saw thousands of children, organisations and schools engage in sport and physical activity.
The theme of the week was ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing; Be Active, Connect, Give Back, Learn and Take Notice. The aim was to hook children and young people on a lifelong love of movement.
It was supported by official partners DC UK, Decathlon, Everything Branded, and David Lloyd. As well as its main partners of the week, the charity was also supported by the Jo Cox Foundation through the Great Get Together, Sport England and Department for Education.
The Youth Sport Trust pioneers new ways of using sport to improve children’s wellbeing and give them a brighter future. It is campaigning for the benefits of being active to be widely recognised in battling declining mental wellbeing and obesity in this and future generations.
YST ambassador Ben Smith toured the country as part of the week and launched a new programme called ‘Journey to Wellbeing’ as part of his USA 2020 Challenge.
Ben said: “We’ve been all around the UK for National School Sport Week, we’ve been to the Wirral, Manchester, London and Cornwall. It has been a full-on week celebrating the Five Ways to Wellbeing. We have done some amazing things as part of it, but I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the schools and organisations who have taken part to raise the profile and celebrate the importance of PE and school sport for our wellbeing.”
Speaking about his experience at school, Ben said: “My experience of PE at school was scary. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, like I would never fit in, that I wouldn’t enjoy it and I put so many barriers in place as an excuse not to exercise. Knowing what I know now, this was down to my experience of sport and not having many options to choose from and thinking I needed to be the best. Having found sport later in life, I can now see the power it has to not only build a person’s soul but also the benefits it has on confidence, self-esteem and our overall mental wellbeing. It’s vitally important that every young person has opportunity to enjoy what sport has to offer.
Highlights of the week
More than 60 children with and without SEND from schools across Liverpool took part in inclusive sports like sitting volleyball, new age Kurling, para-badminton, VI athletics, boccia, wheelchair fencing, and goalball to give every child the opportunity to find a sport they love. The Learning and Discovery festival was held on Tuesday as part of the Department for Education-funded Inclusion 2020 programme.
Dozens of MPs in England, Scotland and Wales visited schools in their constituencies to see first-hand the important role that PE and school sport play in education.
Sports retailer Decathlon marked the first anniversary of its Surrey Quays, London store by putting on an active learning event for local primary school children. DC’s Batman provided Batman themed resources available to schools to encourage physical activity.
Children at St Breock Primary School in Wadebridge, Cornwall were joined by YST Ambassador Ben Smith to unveil a giant sand sculpture themed around the Five Ways to Wellbeing. The sculpture was built throughout the week and celebrated women’s football as part of the ‘Take Notice’ strand of the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
The winner of YST’s NSSW social media competition was announced as Sydenham School in London. The school will receive an inspirational athlete mentor visit as a result. The week finished with YST Chief Executive Ali Oliver joining Sport Minister Mims Davies on a visit to a school in Eastbourne.
Ryan Oates, PE teacher at St Lawrence Academy in Scunthorpe, said: “At the St Lawrence academy we are really passionate about building a learning climate that uses sport as a key way to develop the essential skills and characteristics that a young person needs for a healthy and successful lifestyle.
“As a result, this year’s YST National School Sport Week theme was really appealing for us to seek even further ways that we can engage and enthuse our students through the vehicle of sport. It is so vital we can develop resilient, motivated and confident young people and hopefully we have created an itinerary for the week that will capture the imagination of all our young people, raise awareness to ways they can get involved and active, and through some special moments create even greater ‘togetherness’ amongst our St Lawrence academy community.”
Recommended activity levels
Schools across the UK used National School Sport Week to send a message about the importance of physical activity at a time when national statistics shows young people’s wellbeing and levels of activity have been in decline.
According to Chief Medical Officer guidelines, the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity for children is 60 minutes every day. But research carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust has revealed that 68 per cent of UK adults either believe the target is less than 60 minutes or do not know.
The research, which was based on the responses of 2,071 UK adults, found that almost half (49 per cent) thought children and young people should engage in less than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Only 25 per cent correctly said 60 minutes, and the average, amongst UK adults who were able to give an answer, was 46 minutes.
YST chief executive Ali Oliver said: “We’ve seen a worrying trend in recent years of a decline in young people’s physical activity, and a squeeze on time allocated to good quality Physical Education.
“With our new research showing that most people do not know how much physical activity children should be aiming for, it has never been more important to raise awareness of why this is so important.
“Our work with schools across the country all year round shows the power of sport and play to improve young people’s confidence, tackle stress and equip them with the skills to succeed in life.”