Report: Keep school sports facilities open during summer to get kids active
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Report: Keep school sports facilities open during summer to get kids active

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The fitness of children falls dramatically during the holidays – but the problem could be solved by keeping school sports facilities open during the summer months.

That is the message from research conducted by ukactive and ComRes, which found that children and young people suffer a loss in fitness levels of up to 80 per cent over the summer holidays.

Children from low-income families are worst hit by the loss of structured, school activities outside term times – the report shows fitness levels of children from lower socio-economic groups falling 18 times faster than those of their more affluent peers.

The report also found that more than three in four (77 per cent) Britons say there is a lack of places for children and young people to be physically active during the school holidays.

Separate research by Sport England shows that 39 per cent of sports facilities in England sit behind school gates and the majority of these are inaccessible over the summer holidays.

The findings have resulted in ukactive presenting the government with proposals to unlock school facilities over the summer holidays.

“Millions of children are being let down and left behind over the summer holidays – forced to choose between days spent in front of a screen or on street corners," said ukactive chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

“We are ignoring invaluable community assets sitting right on our doorstep – school facilities – which should be unlocked during the holidays to give every child the opportunity for a healthy, happy summer.”

Baroness Grey-Thompson was part of a delegation which presented the proposals at 10 Downing Street yesterday (2 May). She was joined by former England Rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and ex-criminal turned Nike athlete John McAvoy.

“The positive influence of physical activity on teenagers in need of support should never be underestimated," Dallaglio said.

"It’s how I was introduced to rugby and so I feel passionate about taking responsibility to allow all young people to benefit."

ukactive’s proposals include a pioneering Schools as Community Hubs delivery model, which would unlock school facilities and introduce local activity providers to host subsidised clubs offering activities at them.

The clubs were piloted successfully at 24 schools across England and Wales in 2018, offering holiday-time activities tailored by age group – including sports, games and performing arts classes, as well as nutritious lunches.

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The fitness of children falls dramatically during the holidays – but the problem could be solved by keeping school sports facilities open during the summer months.
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