National School Sport Week: Over 1,600 schools to celebrate to help boost participation levels

More than 1,600 schools will be holding sports days next week as part of a national celebration of sport and PE following a difficult 14 months caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week 2021 starts on Monday and kids across the country are being encouraged to switch off from social media, shut down devices, and take a moment to play outdoors, connect and be together again.

As well as sports days, activities from disco domes and Euros-themed festivals to TikTok dance routines are being made available to school children nationwide to help boost their health and wellbeing.

The week begins with ‘Pause to Play’ Monday which is being backed by broadcaster and former CBBC presenter Leah Boleto and Pussycat Doll, Kimberly Wyatt.

Boleto said: “This year we have all been guilty of being glued to our screens. For children and young people, especially those born during the pandemic like my daughter Lucia, most of what they know is connection through a screen and social distancing.

“That’s why I am joining forces with the Youth Sport Trust and Kimberly to ask the nation at 9.30am onwards today to pause to play. Get outside and get your heart pumping. Really devote some time on National School Sport Week to connecting in the real world and being together again.”

A study commissioned by the Youth Sport Trust found that the majority of six to 15-year-olds want to participate in more sport and exercise, following a 2019/20 academic year in which the vast number of young people failed to meet the daily recommended 60 minutes of physical activity, as per a survey released by Sport England in January.

Ali Oliver MBE, chief executive of the Trust, said: “We’re thrilled that so many schools and partners are set to hold Together Again school sport days this National School Sport Week. This will be a real celebration of togetherness and the important, powerful role of sport in helping young people to recover from a year like no other.

“Sports days don’t have to be about being the best, strongest or quickest, they are a celebration of bringing us together and learning key skills like communication, empathy, teamwork and resilience.

“As our new research highlights, this is not just about getting young people taking part but also empowering them to lead and drive change. This is why it has been so good to see many participating schools giving pupils the opportunity to create and lead their own activities.

“Harnessing the important role of sport and activity to support the nation’s recovery from the pandemic will be a long-term challenge, but the activities taking place throughout this National School Sport Week will be an inspiring celebration of what is possible.”

Alice Braybrook, director of Together, said: “The theme of National School Sport Week this year aligns perfectly with our ambition to create kinder, closer and more connected communities.

“What better way to achieve this in the build up to National Thank You Day on 4th July than through using the power of sport and play to reconnect.”

June Fletcher, PE teacher at Stroud High School, said: “The physical and mental benefits that sport has brought throughout this difficult time in the world is phenomenal.

“It’s why Physical Education is prioritised at our school as an essential part of our broad and balanced curriculum and extensive extra-curricular programmes.

“On the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week, we want to shine a spotlight on PE and school sport and ensure our pupils have an amazing experience on this important week.”

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