In the past week, Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and the Islington PESSPA have released powerful reports that explore the intersection of children’s emotional, mental and physical well-being. Common themes among the reports:
We chose to introduce Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons Running Club UK in 2015 based on the belief that a 360 approach to the whole child would have lasting impact; our curriculum includes group discussion, journal work, games and workouts that engage the head, heart and body.
Mini Mermaids works with girls on their self-esteem, sense of self worth and instills a love of movement. As seen in recent reports, 96% of girls do not take part in any physical activity by the age of 14. Among 7-11 years old, girls cite a lack of confidence as a key factor. According to Youth Sport Trust, lack of physical activity among girls leads to poor mental health and low aspirations. Amongst our Mini Mermaids, we see an increase in confidence, resilience and adoption of movement that translates into all aspects of their everyday lives.
Young Tritons inspires every boy to become emotionally and physically balanced through self-compassion, empathy, cooperation, and a broadened definition of strength. In the UK, according to Young Minds, suicide is the most common cause of death among boys age 5-19. Our Young Tritons learn the value of conversations and truly listening to each other, while experiencing a different type of teamwork, built on support rather than competition.
We welcome the ongoing research and dialogue by these reports and other organisations. We know, and this growing body of research emphasises, the benefits of physical activity on mental, physical and emotional health. However, it is not necessarily linear. It is all interconnected, requiring a collective focus on all the levers - earlier and more in depth. It must happen before girls drop out of physical activity and their sense of self worth is lost and before boys find themselves in a place where they can’t express their emotions or have the emotional resilience to combat their sense of failure.
This is why we are proud to play a grassroots role in positively impacting children aged 7-11 and then to offer further support to teenagers. The anecdotal evidence that we collect from children, parents and school teachers shows the positive impact of our programmes. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to future research and initiatives by the Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and Islington PESSPA.