This year, the theme of National School Sports Week is #celebratePE. The week-long campaign, run by Youth Sports Trust, represents a chance to encourage pupils to get active and engage in regular exercise within their schools. Last year, over 5000 schools and 1.8 million pupils took part. Getting young people up and active is a fantastic initiative – one that Greenhouse Sports wholeheartedly stands behind. But why is increasing young peoples’ involvement in sport so important?
Sport has the unique potential to engage, motivate, and inspire young people. Beyond improving physical wellbeing by reducing the risk of obesity and related health concerns, when used effectively sport can be a powerful tool for social and emotional development. Training and competing require attributes such as teamwork, communication, leadership, self-discipline, commitment, and resilience. Participation in sports brings people together and promotes inclusion, diversity, and mutual respect. There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests a correlation between being physically active and being more attentive in the classroom, leading to improved academic attainment.
“The people at Greenhouse Sports took the passion I had for basketball and gave me a very high standard of mental and physical discipline, which has allowed me to thrive on and off the court. It is one of the reasons I learnt to persevere through difficult times, thus significantly improving my health and enabling me to graduate University this summer with a 1st class Economics degree.” Ashley, 21
Why do we work in the areas that we do?
We focus our resources on schools in London where at least two-thirds of pupils live in areas of high deprivation. For young people, growing up in these areas can limit the opportunities they are exposed to.
Research shows they are:
- Less likely to have access to extra-curricular sport and physical activity options.
- More likely to exhibit sedentary behaviours.
- More than twice as likely as those living in the least deprived areas to be overweight or obese.
- More likely to score lower than their more advantaged peers when tested on social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
- More likely to feel disengaged with their education, and have lower levels of attainment.
At the heart of Greenhouse Sports’ mission is the belief that it is not the lack of ability that holds young people back, but the lack of opportunity.
What impact do our programmes have on young people?
“If I was outside and someone tried to pick a fight with me, my old mentality would be to go and try and fight them. I would be impacted by their behaviour. But as a judo player, I react calmly and think twice.” Abdul, 14
Greenhouse Sports programmes target issues of underachievement and detachment from education. Young people who disengage from school are at a risk of underachieving academically and are more likely to participate in anti-social behaviour. Our coaches design and deliver programmes to combat these problems and develop sport skills that are transferable to challenges in and out of the classroom. These skills range from self-discipline and the upkeep of personal appearance to goal setting and emotional control under stress. On average, Greenhouse Sports participants attend 4 more days of school per year than their non-Greenhouse peers, and 96% of schools said Greenhouse Sports helped pupils become more confident in life.
“My coaches have taught me everything I know about table tennis. But it is not just table tennis. If there is a problem outside of table tennis, they are always there to help. They have given me so much that I could never repay them.” Yasmin, 13
In a special educational needs (SEN) setting, our programmes reduce the chronic levels of inactivity among young people with SEN, positively contribute to the holistic development of each learner, and challenge the negative stereotypes of young people with SEN.
The mother of an SEN participant noticed significant changes after he worked closely with a Greenhouse Sports coach: “I have noticed that his behaviour towards school is so much more positive. He has matured and is taking much more responsibility, and has recently started travelling independently.”
This week, we will be sharing the stories of the young people on our programmes. Stay tuned to hear why sport has become such an important part of their lives.