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Alliance of Sport backs ukactive school holidays campaign

The Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice has pledged its support for ukactive’s campaign to open schools as community hubs during the summer holidays. 

A letter from ukactive Chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has called on the next Prime Minister and Chancellor to support schools to have a powerful impact on the health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families by opening over the summer holidays and engaging families in local, affordable and healthy activity opportunities. 

Ukactive are urging the Government to transform schools into ‘community hubs’ over the summer holiday period to engage children and their families in activities to improve the health and wellbeing of the community, and deliver the Government’s ambitions to build an active nation, tackle childhood obesity, and combat loneliness and antisocial behaviour through improved social cohesion. 

Polling from ComRes finds that 85% of people support the proposal to open school facilities during the holidays, and 87% of parents and guardians say they would consider using them for clubs offering children physical activity through sports, dance and other activities. 

Research by ukactive shows that children and young people suffer a loss in fitness levels of up to 80% over the summer holidays, with the fitness of those from low-income families falling 18 times faster than their more affluent peers. 

This mirrors the notion of “summer learning loss” – a report by the Education Policy Institute shows that schoolchildren who were eligible for free school meals for 80% of their time at school were on average 24 months behind their classmates, and it is estimated that 66% of the achievement gap can be explained by summer learning loss. 

While options for disadvantaged children and young people diminish, especially during the summer holidays, there is an answer that lies right on their doorstep. On average, children live within 2.4 miles of their school, with the average distance falling as low as 1.4 miles for those in inner cities, where levels of deprivation are higher. 

Research by Sport England shows that 39% of sports facilities in England sit behind school gates, yet the majority of these are inaccessible over the summer holidays. 

Grey-Thompson, the 11-time Paralympic gold medal winner, said: “Today’s children are the least active generation ever. Yet, at a time of huge division in both the public and political sphere, our letter to Government shows the major parties united and our polling shows clear public agreement on this issue. 

“It is time for the Government to show its commitment to the next generation by unlocking the school sports facilities lying unused on the doorstep of every neighbourhood.” 

The Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice is one of several high-profile organisations on a list of signatories to ukactive’s from ukactive to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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