‘Active recovery’ needs to be much more than just a short-term fix

The children’s charity Youth Sport Trust is calling for the government to make the remainder of the current school year an ‘active recovery term’ for young people, with a renewed focus on sport, physical activity and physical education, and time outdoors. We wholeheartedly agree — but this is actually a good idea for the long term, not just for the next few weeks and months.

Youth Sport Trust’s latest research shows the continuing effects of lockdown on children’s activity levels. Children are less physically active now than they were before the Covid pandemic. The charity said that its findings show “the urgent need for a renewed focus on sport and physical education” following the easing of lockdown.

A recent post on this website discussed how members of the local community might support schools by working with children as part of post-Covid catch-up. We made the point that ideas and initiatives developed as short-term fixes to address an emergency situation may well be good in themselves. ‘Active recovery’ — a focus on sport and physical activity to deal with the drop-off in children’s activity levels — is one such idea. It needs to be an essential element of the curriculum, not just a bolt-on for a few weeks and months.

In addition to addressing immediate concerns, Ali Oliver, the chief executive of Youth Sport Trust, has also been focusing on the longer term:

…we continue to call on the government to make a bold and courageous commitment to a national ambition for our young people to be the happiest and most active in the world. This should be underpinned by a renewed national strategy to tackle inactivity and recover young people’s wellbeing.

Ali Oliver, chief executive of Youth Sport Trust

In 2018 Youth Sport Trust launched a four-year strategy to promote sport, play and physical activity as a means of enhancing young people’s wellbeing. One of its six objectives was: ‘Transform PE’s place in the curriculum, putting it at the centre of wellbeing and achievement in education.’

Life-based learning also recognises the importance of sport, physical activity and outdoor play in helping children to grow up physically and mentally healthy. The Body is one of nine learning themes that make up life-based learning. Its approach to health and wellbeing combines a focus on children learning how to look after themselves with a coordinated, whole-school focus on physical activity.

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Image at the head of this article by manseok Kim from Pixabay.

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