Taking Professional Responsibility for Children’s Physical Activity

The December 2013 report [i] from the British Journal of Sport Medicine suggesting that child health in the UK lags behind most European counterparts, and accusing the government of a form of mass child neglect by the lack of a national childhood exercise policy, has been met with concern from Capre, the Children’s Activity Professionals Register.

The recently launched independent Register is leading the call for increased sector professionalism to encourage positive change in child health in the UK, and help children rediscover the enjoyment of physical activity.

Stephen Mitchell, Head of Consultancy at SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, Learning and Well-Being, which owns and operates Capre, says, “There are dire health and economic implications of continuing to allow successive generations of children to be relatively inactive.

We must change this by engaging children and young people in physical activity, and the way to do this is through using highly qualified professionals, who can deliver engaging, fun and safe sessions.

“Children are not like adults, so education on health implications is not enough here. The first step to addressing this national issue is by professionalising how physical activity is delivered to children. Through the professionalisation of this industry, parents will also become more receptive and aware of the positive impact that physical activity can bring.”

Other recent data shows that 85% of girls and 73% of boys aged 13 fail to do the recommended one hour of physical activity per day, while 25% of children aged 2 – 15 spend six hours every weekend day being inactive [ii].

Stephen Mitchell adds, “Awakening a child’s natural enthusiasm for sport and physical activity is such a critically important role. By professionally nurturing our children’s natural enthusiasm for playing outside, we can establish the foundation for life-long health.”

Capre offers reassurance to schools and parents that people who work with children and young people hold the correct qualifications and meet agreed National Occupational Standards.

Stephen Mitchell says, “We must act now to ensure our children get fitter and healthier, and avoid the horrible epidemic of obesity that threatens to engulf our young people, and future generations. By addressing the challenges of enthusing young people about physical activity, we can encourage them to discover it can be just as enjoyable as being sedentary in front of computer tablets and smart phones.”

Stephen Mitchell concludes, “Qualified activity professionals are essential to making sure we provide the best possible encouragement for promoting healthy active lifestyles. Working together, we can reverse the insidious trend of childhood inactivity that is leading to the shame of a national obesity epidemic.”

[i] Br J Sports Med bjsports-2013-093018 Published Online First: 9 December 2013

[ii] Children and Young People Statistics 2013. British Heart Foundation (BHF).

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