It’s one of the most common misconceptions of childhood that you must be sporty to be active. For those children less interested or less talented at sport, they can often be marginalised which can lead to dangerously high levels of childhood obesity – a crisis that we as a nation are currently in the midst of.
Children often turn to increased time spent watching television and getting into unhealthy eating habits because of their lack of desire to compete with their ‘sporty’ peers. Fear of failure and lack of confidence can also creep into children’s minds if they are unable to succeed in a certain sport, which, in turn can stop them from embedding physical activity into their daily routines.
We are all creatures of habit and the experiences we have from our childhoods can be fundamental to forming how to we act growing up and often help shape who we are. That’s exactly why Fit For Sport’s tagline is ‘a journey to an active life’, because the sooner we embed the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day into our routines the better chance we have of leading a long healthy life.
Being sporty is a bonus but by no means should being non-sporty determine if a child leads a physically active lifestyle.
This is why we should be promoting ‘playtime’ more, as this can be so crucial to both physical and mental child development. It allows children to expand their creative minds by coming up with new enjoyable games and ways to remain active - it’s the time in which children find out where their interests lie.
For far too long strict PE lessons continue to be made up of specific sports that not every child will take to. Sport is proven to disengage more than it engages, as such, we must address the activities on offer to the younger generation or else we will continue to be fighting a losing battle. After all, it’s called Physical Education, not Sporting Education.
We as a nation have often been guilty of driving our younger generation to play sport from an early age without equipping them with the necessary skills to thrive and as a result those that do not possess those tools are left by the wayside.
This bring us onto those that influence our younger generation. We as educators and parents must stop expecting the new Lionel Messi or Serena Williams and aim to focus more on those children who are disengaged.
As parents, we push our children to become supreme athletes when they may not have the interest in following that path. Similarly, PE teachers are guilty of favouring to develop their more talented pupils with the assumption that ‘they could go far’.
CEO and founder of Fit For Sport, Dean Horridge, has always maintained that every child can and should be leading an active lifestyle. “If you take yourself back to your experience of sport during school, you either enjoyed it or you didn’t. 10 from 30 children in the class will likely say they loved it (the sporty kids) but the remaining two thirds will likely say that they hated it. These two thirds (the disengaged) are therefore unlikely to lead an active lifestyle as adults”.
At Fit For Sport, our focus is on maintaining enjoyment for children through various fun activities, of course there is the opportunity to play sport but in order to engage every child we recognise the need to offer diversity in the activities on offer. After all sport is not for all and we must find alternative methods of ensuring every child enjoys the feeling of being active.
As a result of these concerns, we developed the Activity Challenge a few years ago. This tests endurance, agility and coordination through a series of easy to follow challenges. The free online platform provides the activities and each child is then awarded bronze, silver or gold for the score that they achieve for each challenge, they then try and better their scores each successive time. Visit www.activitychallenge.co.uk for more information.
Being active doesn’t have to be complicated, we have always followed our SAS model for years, Simple, Achievable and Sustainable in which we encourage people to set realistic goals and by incorporating fun and varied activities such as tag games and arts & crafts there’s a stronger likelihood that you will stick to your goals.
For lots of tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a family, why not sign up to our monthly Fitter Families Newsletter via www.fitforsport.co.uk.