Being physically active is important for a child’s physical, mental and social development. Playground designers and consultants, Playrope, discuss the links between exercise and academic performance.
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Mary Jeavons, Director of Jeavons Landscape Architects, highlights the importance for children to actively play outdoors at school, and discusses how play equipment can be designed and managed to benefit children as they learn to manage risks in their environment.
A growing trend in youth obesity levels has seen fitness at the core of public discussion over the past few years, with many governments subsequently reviewing policies and programs to combat the increasingly inactive lifestyles of our children.
With childhood inactivity becoming a growing concern, Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer says schools are a key vehicle to help solve the issue and get children to become more physically active.
According to research, up to 81 per cent of Australian children are not meeting physical activity guidelines. A report card released by Active Healthy Kids Australia in late 2018 scored the nation a D-minus for children’s physical activity levels. It also ranked Australia at number 32 out of 49 countries for children’s physical activity levels.
“This is not good enough because we know sport and physical activity can play a crucial role in the holistic development of children, putting them on the path to vibrant and productive lives,” Ms Palmer said. “It can impact positively on their physical and mental health, social development, and their ability to learn.”
She added that children who grow up being active and playing sport are 10 per cent more likely to remain active into adulthood.
“We want to make daily physical activity a part of every child’s life and we believe a key vehicle to solving our inactivity crisis is through schools. We want to support schools and teachers to deliver high quality physical education because we believe that is a critical vehicle for children to develop the confidence, competence and the motivation required to move.
“Sport Australia is committed to making Australia the world’s most active nation and that will require generational change. Sport Australia wants to work collaboratively with the education sector and with organisations such as ACHPER (the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation), so together we can get Australian children moving more often.”
The Australian Government’s $200 million Sporting Schools program is managed by Sport Australia, providing Australian children with free access to physical activity. In just over three years, the program has reached 84 per cent of Australian schools.
“Despite the program’s enormous reach, evidence tells us we need more. Increasingly, Australian children are unable to perform basic fundamental movement skills such as running, throwing, kicking, catching or jumping.
“Sport Australia is developing a national commitment to increase physical literacy by embedding it within education environments. Our focus is on ensuring all young Australians have access to the volume of time and the quality of experience needed to ensure they develop into more physically literate Australians.”