Every year nearly every school in the UK puts on an annual sports day. Sports days are a great opportunity to bring students together in the school community, have fun and get active. We know that exercise has lots of benefits for pupils and students, and that sports days are important for their health and wellbeing.
Here is why…
Young people are not physically active
A recent study from the World Health Organization found that the “majority of adolescents worldwide are not sufficiently physically active, putting their current and future health at risk.” People under 18 are advised to undertake some kind of physical activity for an hour a day. But long hours at school, a growth in social media and technology use, and squeezing of PE from the curriculum means that those targets are not being met. In 2020 to 2021, less than half (44.6%) of children and young people aged 5-16)in England met the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more every day. Girls are particularly at risk, so finding an inclusive activity for all genders is essential. The varied nature of sports day means there is something for everyone.
Sports day can be inspiring
A one off sports day can’t solve this problem. But what it can do it help inspire young people to get active. It can reassure them that physical activity isn’t scary, or daunting, or something to put off. It is a fun and enjoyable way to celebrate your body. Whether it’s long jump, a 100m race, or even a welly throwing competition, moving the body releases endorphins and gets people smiling. Which is a win all round.
Sports day can be inclusive
Not everyone is academic, or enjoys learning in the classroom. Sports days can be a great way to include young people who struggle in more academic settings. The mental health toll of being considered behind your peers can be challenging, so an inclusive sports day that celebrates the diversity of skills in a school can improve a sense of wellbeing. People can get a huge boost from finding out that they have skills and can achieve things – when a lot of the education system tells them they can’t.
It improves social skills
Taking part in sports can also help young people to develop their social skills and build strong relationships. It is a great way to show leadership and teamwork and build communication skills through interacting with other pupils and students. Building relationships within these contexts will help set them up for positive relationships in the future.
It encourages students to try new things
One of the most powerful messages that students and pupils can get from sports day is the value of ‘giving things a go’. Not everyone can be good at everything. Not everyone will win gold medal or first place. You won’t be an expert at everything. And that’s ok. It’s ok to try things out just for the experience.
It encourages students to support
Have you ever seen how much cheering and excitement happens at a sports day? Students rally around their peers to support them to do their best and have fun. It’s a great way to build friendships and relationships in a way that is encouraging and supportive. Smiling, laughing and having fun together is the best way to build a strong school community.
School sports days can help with physical, mental and social wellbeing and help us create happy and healthy students who thrive at school and in the future. So grab your trainers and get involved!