Gary Palmer, Specialist Advisor – Children and Young People, addresses issues of getting young people more active everyday.
Over the past few days, I had the privilege of both watching and running with thousands of young people and many of their families at events held at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The INEOS Go Run For Fun and the Daily Mile event saw 5,000 young people celebrate weeks of regular running in their schools, while the Simplyhealth UK Great Newham Run Family Run saw hundreds of families running together around and inside the amazing Olympic Stadium.
These events were not about elite athletes, although there were many very talented young athletes competing. They were about celebrating physical activity, sharing fun experiences with friends, family and teachers.
Many young people like to be active and – consciously or unconsciously – understand the benefits of doing so. They like to play, they like to have fun, they like to move however they can and they like to have smiles on their faces. An active child is a happy child. A happy child is likely to more comfortable in their life, more confident, more resilient and more successful.
London Sport is committed to making London the most active city in the world, and in order for that to become a reality we need to ensure that young people develop a resilient physical activity habit for life.
For this to happen, we need to create the cultural changes where physical activity is the norm, not the exception.
- We need to make it easier for young people to be active both at school and in the community in a safe, fun environment.
- We need to ensure that young people have the right skills that enable them to take part, to play and to enjoy.
- We need to ensure that young people feel positive about being active because activity has been delivered to them in an appropriate way.
- We need to ensure that there are safe places in the local area where young people can play, discover and enjoy being active.
- We need to use the power of elite sport, the many fantastic role models and the outstanding stadia that exist in London to welcome the youth of today, the leaders of the tomorrow.
London Sport is working with a host of organisations across the capital who share our vision and our intentions. We need to ensure that organisations working with children and young people are making the best use of the resources that they have. We need to work in collaboration, not competition to achieve a common goal.
I have long believed in the ability of physical activity to change young people’s lives for the better. Being a part of those two events in the past week only helped to reinforce my belief in what sport has to offer the next generation. I now passionately believe that it is our duty to focus on ensuring that these benefits – the great outcomes that so many of us already enjoy through sport – are available to all young people, not just those lucky enough to grow find themselves in the right place at the right time.
London Sport will continue to strive to make London the most active city in the world and to encourage young people to be active every day to help us achieve that honour. I hope that all organisations involved in working with young people in London will join us in delivering this vision.
About the Author
Gary Palmer is London Sport’s Specialist Advisor – Children and Young People. He can be found on Twitter at @garyapalmer66