Six years ago today, 6th July 2005, it was announced that London would host the 2012 Olympics. The announcement was met with a fevered excitement, bordering on hysteria, from both the general public and sports stars alike.
Exactly four months and four days prior to this, my first son was born. The arrival was met with a fevered excitement, bordering on hysteria from both parents and grandparents alike.
The two events are linked closer than you may think since the Olympic bid was supposedly won on the promise of an ‘Olympic legacy’. My eldest son should be in the prime position to benefit from this legacy. But with just over one year to go to the start of the 2012 Olympics, what benefits can children expect from the competition?
The ‘Legacy Promises’ document published in 2007 by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport made five promises, including ‘Inspire a generation of young people to take part in volunteering, cultural and physical activity’.
What I am struggling to understand however is what this really means. To me, legacy is about inspiration and sustainability. For this to take place for children it requires space, equipment, coaches and new, fresh ideas. It should be for a sustained period of time, not just 6, 8 or 10 weeks. It should result in more children falling in love with physical activity, fitness and/or sport and choosing to participate every week for the rest of their lives!
In May 2010, an article in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) was published which showed that there is evidence to suggest watching elite athletes will not make children more active (source: www.tes.co.uk). This suggests that children aren’t necessarily being inspired by the activity or sports person themselves.
A report called 'YMCA Family health snapshot' produced in the US has revealed that;
• 74% of US children aged between 5 and 10 years are not active enough
• Only 15% of US parents rank overall physical health as their top concern for their kids
• 58% of US children aged between 5 and 10 years don't get enough time playing outdoors
Is this the same for UK parents? Do only just over 1 in 10 parents consider their child's physical health as being their top concern? The USA has hosted Olympic Games in 1984, 1996 and 2002 (Winter Olympics) so did their Olympic legacy really make a difference to their kids?
ActivKids aim to inspire children and their families from 18 months of age to enjoy physical activity and fitness. We remove obstacles such as ‘not having enough time, space or equipment’ so that fun, fitness ideas become easy to participate in. ActivKids also strive to inspire more people to lead ActivKids sessions in a truly child centric way. We love what we do but we want to put the children’s and parents needs first before pushing our desire for people to ‘run around getting hot and sweaty’!
In recent weeks the 2012 Olympic legacy has suffered some bad press about what it will truly achieve. Let’s hope those children that really need the inspiration to be active are truly thought about and considered when it comes to putting together plans for programmes. Otherwise the 2012 London Olympics maybe accused of winning it’s bid based on a lie.
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