Over 14,000 more children and young people in Kent and Medway are meeting government physical activity guidelines and benefiting from being active.
The latest results from Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey which covers the 2021-22 academic year shows that activity levels have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. In Kent and Medway, 46.6% of children and young people achieved the Chief Medical Officers recommended 60 minutes of sport or physical activity a day.
Alongside the growth in the number of active children and young people, the survey found that activity levels among those with a disability or long-term health condition were the same as those without, secondary aged girls’ activity levels are increasing, and more girls are playing football. The survey provides more evidence of the benefits of getting active for mental health, active children and young people are happier, worry less and feel less lonely.
However, there are still 53.4% of children and young people who are not active enough. The research found that there are still inequalities, activity levels are lowest for those in school years 3-4, the gender gap between boys and girls has re-emerged and those from less affluent families and from Black, Asian and Other Ethnicities are least likely to be active.
To address these inequalities, Active Kent and Medway has utilised Sport England’s National Lottery investment to consult with over 2000 young people across the county to develop tailored activities based on the needs of the least active young people. This consultation has helped to re-design our School Games competitions and opportunities, while also engaging over 800 participants in after-school activities, 247 of whom received free school meals, 243 had a disability and 246 were from culturally diverse communities.
Our evaluation of this ‘youth voice’ approach clearly demonstrated the improvements in both physical and mental wellbeing. In addition to the 18% increase in the number of young people who took part in the after-school clubs becoming ‘active’, our evaluation also showed that over 50% of young people stated that their resilience and self-belief had improved. There was a much-needed increase in happiness and life satisfaction scores, providing further evidence of the mental health benefits of being active.
Active Kent and Medway also supported 30 schools to access £282,000 of Department for Education funding to open their facilities and provide weekly activities for young people. Developing funded delivery plans with these schools, led to over 5000 young people participating in 133 after-school clubs, including skateboarding, futsal, trampolining and climbing. The programme also enabled 158 community organisations to access school sports facilities as the easing of lockdown restrictions began.
Mike Hill, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services at Kent County Council said:
“Ensuring children and young people have opportunities to be active whatever their age, gender, ability, or circumstance is vital during these formative years. The physical, mental and social benefits are far reaching, providing positive experiences that will stay with them for life”.
Graham Razey OBE, Active Partnership Board Chairman, commented:
“It is absolutely fantastic to see that so many of our children and young people are being active for the recommended time each day. However, even with these great statistics, it still means that more than one in two of our young people across Kent and Medway are not living active enough lives.
At Active Kent and Medway our vision is more people, more active, more often and this encapsulates what we want to achieve for those young people who aren’t currently meeting the guidelines. I am very proud that we have supported so many schools in accessing funding, and look forward to growing this agenda for the benefit of even more young people across our partnership area.”