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Virtual sport sessions for children during school closures

We've teamed up with the Youth Sport Trust and government to enlist 450 School Games Organisers to help deliver online activity programme.

21st March 2020

More than 400 trusted and experienced leaders in school sport and physical activity are being redeployed to provide online activities and digital content for children during school closures.

As the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grow, School Games Organisers (SGOs) who would normally be helping to put on county, inter and intra-school competitions at this time of year, will now be tasked with helping to keep the nation’s children active.

The Chief Medical Officer’s guidance recommends 60 minutes of activity a day for children, but with schools closed and social distancing measures preventing most organised sport from taking place, extra efforts are needed to maintain activity levels.

School Games organisers film a hockey match at the 2017 School Games in Loughborough

That’s why we’ve teamed up with the Youth Sport Trust and the Departments for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Health and Social Care, to enlist the 450 SGOs – who will also respond to the needs of schools still providing care to children of key workers.

“Helping our children stay active is going to be more important than ever – for everyone’s physical and mental health,” said our chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth.

“All the research shows that the biggest driver of whether children are active or not, is enjoyment, so this brand new online programme will be built with that in mind.

“We’d encourage parents to build activity into their own routines too, because research shows they are great role models - active parents are more likely to have active children.”

The weekly programme will include a variety of activities, such as fitness exercises, personal challenges, online contests, problem solving games and activities which support physical competence – as well as mindfulness.

Emphasis will be put on making the digital content fun and good for children’s wellbeing, with the programme coming in addition to content being made available daily by people like The Body Coach – Joe Wicks – and organisations like the Premier League and sport’s national governing bodies.

What will the programme do?

The digital content aims to:

  • Provide daily inspiration and inclusive activities which will allow all children and young people to continue to access 60 active minutes a day while social distancing is in place 
  • Ensure physical literacy and physical fitness is maintained at a time when children’s lifestyles could easily become more sedentary 
  • Allow SGOs to provide a network of support to schools in embedding physical activity, play and sport within virtual curriculums 
  • Provide simple and accessible ideas and content to help parents and carers maintain an active routine for children and young people during the disruption caused by coronavirus, which in turn will help support positive engagement and wellbeing, as well as enhancing concentration and cognition to support remote learning.

The Youth Sport Trust will also work with UK Sport to enlist high-profile athletes to champion the campaign and provide motivation and inspiration for young people.

Ali Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “There are two key priorities for our charity and the sport sector during this pandemic.

“One, we must ensure physical literacy, physical fitness and mental health is maintained at a time when children’s lifestyles could easily become more sedentary.

“Two, we need to use this moment in history to promote healthier lifestyle habits and the positive and productive uses of technology.

“I am sure I speak for many when I say the anxiety and uncertainty that this pandemic is causing young people is deeply upsetting and concerning for their future health.

“But this is what the Youth Sport Trust and other bodies we work with exist for: we work tirelessly to support schools, communities, parents and carers to instill in children a love of movement and an understanding of how to unlock the physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits that come from play and sport.”

The weekly programme and resources will start to be developed in the coming week, with the resources being made available on the School Games website in due course.

Visit the School Games website

In addition to this programme of content, we'll also be launching a national campaign this coming week to encourage activity in and around the home. You'll be able to keep track of it using #StayInWorkOut, as sport and physical activity providers offer up free content to keep the nation active.

Staying active in and around home

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