Moving more to improve mental health: Mental Health Awareness Week and The Big Ambition for Sport roundtable

This week it is Mental Health Awareness WeekOrganized by the Mental Health Foundation. This year’s theme is all about getting everyone moving more to improve their mental health. The Children’s Commissioner and her Youth Ambassadors recently hosted a roundtable with the Youth Sports Trust and shared the importance of physical activity to support children’s mental health.

Children and young people talk about physical and mental health in relation to each other – the two go hand in hand. This is the younger generation that has a unique health consciousness.

In my last poll, Great ambitionIn which I asked the youth what the next government could do to improve their lives, the children told me:

I think the government should improve the school curriculum. Not enough children have the motivation, space or resources to play sport outside of school, and this shows in young people’s mental and physical health. I think there should be more time for physical education lessons in schools and more learning about life skills […]- Girl, 13.

“They should renovate the parks with sports fields and exercise equipment so that people who do not have a park to exercise can have a place to exercise, enjoy themselves and stay fit and healthy” – Boy, 10 years old.

“The government should create more parks around different places so that people can have as much fun as I do.” – Girl, 11

“The government needs to prioritize spending money on… things that children can do when they are not in school. Youth clubs, sports clubs and swimming are not that expensive.” – Boy, 11.

As part of a larger ambition, I co-hosted a roundtable with some of my friends Youth AmbassadorsMehul, Bobby, Sofia and members Youth Council of the Youth Sports FundAnd my father, Abhishna, Greg, Joel, and Saif. It brought together experts and leaders from across the youth sports sector to ask the question: “How can the next government make children’s lives better through sport and active play?”

The topics raised at the roundtable emphasized how important sport is in supporting children to learn how to take care of their physical and mental health. Sport can build confidence, self-confidence, create new friendships, increase their motivation, resilience and leadership skills, provide a safe space to let loose, and provide children with the opportunity to integrate into their communities and learn from being part of more diverse groups.

It was clear during the discussions how sport can make a difference in a child’s life. Seif, a youth council member, spoke about his experience as an asylum seeker in Wigan and how he found a sense of belonging and purpose through the Wigan Youth Zone. Through sports, he has found a platform to network and develop as a leader and become a role model for other young people, inspiring them to follow in his footsteps.

An integral part of the discussion was around solutions to some of the issues surrounding youth sports – in particular how we can make sport accessible to every child. The discussion covered the importance of role models and mentors in sport, the professional role of youth workers – including training and broadening the range of people who fit these roles – the financial implications of involvement in sport and funding to increase access for children.

My young ambassador, Sophia, shares her own experience:

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Youth Sports Fund Roundtable with Ms. Rachel D’Souza and other ambassadors, where we met Olympic champion Ms. Denise Lewis. We were so impressed and motivated by her speech that we realized once again how important sport is in every person’s life, not only as a physical activity, but also as an area of ​​education and resilience.

I believe that sport is a very important component of children’s physical and mental health. Sports is a discipline that creates strong-minded children who are able to withstand any mental difficulties in the future. I have been fortunate to have sport in my life, and now I realize how much it has helped me become a strong and resilient person, not only in the face of physical exertion but also in the face of stress, uncertainty and failure that I have overcome time and time again. I believe that playing sports regularly at school or in any kind of sports club will help raise a strong-minded nation, which is very important for our common happy and stable future.

Sophia, Children’s Commissioner and Youth Ambassador

as part of Great ambition for youth work I’ve identified five overarching outcomes that I want for every child: to be safe, healthy, happy, educated and involved in their community.

To achieve this, I am sharing my recommendations with government, policy makers and charities, including three ambitions for sport and active play:

  1. Every child has access to play and fun things to do
  2. Every child has access to high-quality youth services in their local area
  3. Each child is supported by youth services who work together to prevent problems escalating

To achieve these ambitions, children’s access to positive out-of-school activities, including sport, must be expanded, and there must be a greater focus on participation in sport and physical education at school. school .

In addition, I have published Great ambition for health Which shares the need for better mental health supports and services for children and young people. My team also created posts for Basic And secondary Support school students to talk about mental health and where to find support.

Read more about the Great Ambition for Sport Roundtable from the Youth Sports Trust here: youthsporttrust.org/news-listings/advocacy/childrens-commissioner-roundtable.

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