Youth work and sport: Special report
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
With activity levels among children and young people having fallen since the pandemic, a number of policies and funding programmes aim to encourage participation to improve physical and mental health.
There is a mountain of evidence showing the benefits that sport and physical activity can have for young people’s physical and mental health. Children and young people that are active for the recommended 60 minutes or more per day are less likely to be overweight in childhood and suffer from long-term health conditions in adulthood. Research by Sport England shows that the more active a young person is the happier they are and less likely to experience loneliness. They are also more likely to show character traits indicative of resilience.
Studies also show there is a strong correlation between participation in sport and improved education and life outcomes. For example, research by the Youth Sport Trust found that two-thirds of schoolchildren said being active helped them learn while three quarters of teachers said it improved pupils’ academic progress (see research evidence).
Despite this strong evidence of the benefits of sport for young people, disadvantaged groups have lower levels of participation. While three-quarters of young people in the most affluent households are “confident” to participate in sport, this falls to just half of those in socio-economic groups DE.
Research by Sport England shows that half of affluent young people undertake on average 60 minutes of exercise each day but this falls to 39 per cent for those in the least affluent group. There is a similar gap in activity levels between white and black children too. The data shows that disadvantaged young people are also less tuned in to the link between participation in sport and achieving life goals.
Read more in CYP Now's youth work and sport special report:
By Sally Carr, North West director, StreetGames, and trustee, National Youth Agency