Britain has millions of unfit children – but how to encourage them to be more physically active is taxing leaders at all levels of government, education, health and sport.
One school of thought is that by raising ‘physical literacy’ we can increase physical activity and exercise.
To be physically literate is essentially to feel that getting active is actually right for you and, it follows, that those that do are twice as likely to be active or sporty.
Now, more than 50 organisations, including Liverpool John Moores University, are coming together to ‘unite’ perspectives on physical literacy and advocate for building it into work at community, organisational and system level to help children to lead happier and healthier lives.
Dr Lawrence Foweather, Reader in Physical Activity and Health at LJMU, said: “Unfortunately, despite all our hard work, 53% of children and young people are not getting enough daily physical activity, and those who stand to benefit the most from being active often find it hardest to access the opportunities to do so.”
One of the barriers. He says, is the lack of physical literacy, or a lack of awareness of the benefits of or opportunities to participate in activity.
Sport England has funded year-long project involving Lawrence and other experts, that has developed a physical literacy consensus statement for England, that’s to say, the first universal definition of physical literacy in England which seeks to catalyse efforts to support and promote physical literacy in practice.
This statement will be launched at the Positive Experiences for Children and Young People: A Spotlight on Physical Literacy event at the Royal Society of Arts, London on 28 September, 2023.
“The hope is that the event and the new consensus will help energise work around physical activity and participation on sport.
“As a sector, we need to think deeply about what we could be doing differently. A united effort behind physical literacy will help to build a healthier, happier and more resilient nation that loves to move" said Dr Foweather, one of the architects of the new statement.”
Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “We must ensure children and young people have positive experiences of sport and physical activity that are fun, inclusive and help them develop.
“The new Physical Literacy Consensus Statement for England provides a framework to help us explore this in greater depth and is relevant for all ages and everyone working to improve the activity levels and health of our nation.
About the common statement
The Physical Literacy Consensus Statement for England has been developed to facilitate a shared understanding of physical literacy for those working in the sport, education, physical activity, recreation, play, health and youth sectors.
The consensus statement was created by an expert group of researchers and professionals, including those from Liverpool John Moores University, Coventry University, the University of Bradford and the University of Gloucestershire.
It was finalised following an extensive consultation and included feedback from those working and volunteering in the sport and physical activity sector.
See more about the statement and the push to improve physical literacy on the LJMU Sport and Exercise Science website.