Wow! What an amazing couple of weeks we’ve had with the Olympics. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely been inspired to get my trainers on and get out the door. And from what I’ve been seeing on Twitter, so have lots of young people. Fantastic! Now, if only we can think sensibly about how to move this forward, especially in the wake of the news that lots of schools have sold off their playing fields…
1. Schools. We need to stop thinking schools are the answer to everything. they aren’t. Young people are in only in school for a certain amount of time. They are not solely responsible for raising a child. Yes they play a massive role and have a huge responsibility, but they can’t do it on their own. They don’t have the time or the funding and have a huge number of issues to contend with such as timetables and resources. It is essential that we instill in young people the importance of an active healthy lifestyle. They need to associate wellness and health with a balanced lifestyle and diet. They need to know how to fit that in with their academic work. However, one of the problems is that schools cannot accommodate all types of sport. They don’t have the facilities for everyone to have a go at rowing or archery or cycling. Some will, most won’t. They don’t have the funds to access these for every students. It’s just the way it is. So how can this be rectified?
2. Community. Where are there are rowing clubs for example, they need to get into schools and publicise what they have on offer. The community needs to pull together and work with schools to help young people get involved and stay involved. They’ll need funding and this won’t always be easy to come by but if everyone pulls together, fund raises, bids for anything and everything they can, then something might be able to work. Community sports groups will need help from schools and possibly the most important group of all.
3. Parents. So many athletes during London 2012 thanked their parents for their support. So parents, please don’t underestimate how important you are. You are essential, whether your child is going to be the next Jessica Ennis or not. You need to show the type of balanced lifestyle that schools are being told to instill in young people, but if you aren’t doing that, it will be difficult for most children to see it working. Are you eating your five a day? Do you wear a cycle helmet while out on your bike? Children emulate what their parents do – we learn everything from tolerance to money lessons to eating habits from our parents, no matter what schools do. It’s parents who drive their children to the swimming pool. It’s parents who will buy the boxing gloves and mouth shields. Are you inspired to help your child become the next Nicola Adams?
Each group cannot work independently and succeed. They all need to work together if the inspiration from London 2012 is going to have any kind of longevity. I think it can succeed. The Paralympics will only increase the inspiration, as these superhuman athletes achieve beyond expectation. We as communities, as a society and as a nation need to do what we can to encourage these seeds of inspiration to grow. We can’t rely on the Government or even the athletics association. Money is tight. Resources are tight. But if we want to have the same buzz we had this summer in four years time, we need to pull together.