MPs call for children’s sport campaign after fall in activity levels during Covid-19 pandemic

Fitness coach Joe Wicks organised online PE classes to keep families fit during lockdown
Fitness coach Joe Wicks organised online PE classes to help keep families fit during lockdown

MPs have called on the government to launch a campaign aimed at encouraging children to participate in sport amid concerns over a fall in activity levels due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee said children should engage in “at least 60 minutes” of moderate activity every day.

Sport England figures showed 100,000 fewer children met that mark last year.

The DCMS report expressed “significant concern” over the decrease in activity.

The report read: “Before the end of this year, the government should initiate a nationwide communications campaign, similar to that of the ‘Five-a-day’ campaign, to emphasise the importance of children and young people engaging in at least 60 minutes of moderate activity every day recommended by the chief medical officer.”

The report urged the government to pre-empt the impact of the third lockdown on fitness levels with a ‘Work Out to Help Out’ initiative.

MPs also heard how grassroots sports finances are in “tatters” as a result of the pandemic with numerous clubs at the risk of closure, with the report calling for the government to revise funding models.

“This last 18 months has left the already perilous finances of grassroots sport in tatters,” said DCMS committee chair Julian Knight, MP.

“Community sports clubs nurture Olympic medallists and bring joy to people young and old. We cannot let them go to the wall. That is why delays to support schemes such as the Community Ownership Fund are so disappointing and unhelpful.

“Today we’ve made recommendations to the government on how to better protect the spaces we exercise in and put grassroots sport on a more sustainable financial footing.

“The government must also play its part in getting people active again following the pandemic or risk consequences for public health in the future.”

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