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COVID-19: Pandemic sees 94,000 fewer children hitting recommended 60 minutes of activity a day

Children and young people’s activity levels continue to be negatively affected by the COVID pandemic at a time when physical activity is more important than ever, according to Sport England.

New data suggests 94,000 fewer children and young people in England were active in the last academic year when compared to pre-pandemic times.

The government recommends that children and young people do 60 minutes of sport and physical activity every day.

The data shows that black children were the least active, with only 36% getting the recommended amount of physical activity.

The worst affected age group was seven to nine-year-olds, with only 38% getting enough activity.

Those from disadvantaged backgrounds were also more negatively affected when compared to those from affluent backgrounds, this was partially due to not having access to outdoor spaces.

Like many children across the country, pupils at Gainsborough Primary School in east London missed out on opportunities to play sport throughout the pandemic.

Yaasmin, a year six pupil, told Sky News even though “teachers tried really hard” to deliver PE lessons virtually “on Zoom, it wasn’t that fun”.

“Teachers couldn’t correct us to make us do better,” she added.

Micah is glad to be back on the pitch.

“Sports is very important actually ’cause it’s good exercise and it helps you express your body in different way” he said.

“Without it, I’d get tired, lazy, and wouldn’t be able to do anything. [I’d get] get sad and bored.”

Coaches from Badu Sports come in to work with these children in their PE lessons.

Their coach, Kevin Badu, head of sports at Badu, told Sky News: “Sport grows a child and it enables them to become the person they need to be and want to be, brings out personality and teaches them fantastic life skills.

“It teaches them, from a really young person, how to be supportive, how to work with others, how to be a whole person.”

He said after the children returned to school following COVID lockdowns, many “wouldn’t bring in their PE kits, they would shy away” and many lost their self-confidence.

He added that while they’re “getting back to normality”, it “took a while” to get the children engaging with sport again.

Lisa O’Keefe, executive insight director at Sport England, told Sky News it is important that “we do keep on protecting those places and spaces where children and young people can get access”.

She added: “So whether that’s school activity, whether that’s organised sport, all those clubs and volunteers up and down the country who are working so hard and responding to all the changes going on around us to keep activity going.”

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