I’m passionate about children’s health and well-being, and I have touched on this subject before.
I’ve already talked about a nuclear bomb that’s threatening the health of the world; one that I believe much of the civilised world would experience. I know it sounds dramatic, but I believe this is what we are heading for if we do not act now.
When I say that we need to act now, I’m not talking about using pretty power points and pages and pages of data or figures on thousands of documents presented by many of the associations and entities studying this area. To address this, we need an army of professionals, schools, sports, parents, governing bodies and the government all working together in an integrated, sophisticated, logical and intelligent fashion. This will go a long way to reversing the trend that if not addressed, will ultimately affect our children and the young adults of today in a catastrophic way, causing serious illness and premature death.
As we say in sport, talk is cheap.
Dealing with the decline in children’s health and fitness will take a large and committed army who are willing to get their finger nails dirty, getting out there, face to face delivery and actions that will affect kids in a dynamic way.
I passionately believe that sport could be a major contributor to the solution; I have witnessed the power of sport and how it can change lives through The Elena Baltacha Foundation and my own work as a fitness, health and sports professional. We need to all work together, and this is what I am currently committing to through my work.
I have seen the power of sport, I live this every day, and I know it changes lives – we just need millions more children to take part. Sport will develop their bodies and their minds, will give them a life focus, bond the families together through commitment to participation and training.
It will encourage children to live a healthier life, and carry this into adulthood, where they can pass the fitness culture onto their children. But how can this be achieved in an effective way?
We need a powerful network that can deliver a strong and meaningful message, a message that will have an incredible effect. What better network than the thousands of schools spread across Great Britain, nurturing millions of children?
We need a meaningful message, and for me that is awareness of the need for a positive lifestyle culture for children, both physical and psychological. A culture like this could be motivated by sport, which is a very positive influencer on children’s and families lives, It doesn’t need to be elite, and it doesn’t need to be expensive.
This is where the integrated element of the approach is critical. Many of our schools do an amazing job, but it’s very hard to have that penetrating effect into families’ home lives.
Many of our sporting governing bodies also deliver valuable work, and are always looking for children to join their sport to increase participation. This is where the point of integration must happen much more effectively, and what I am committed to presently. Don’t get me wrong, sports do link with schools, but I don’t think we have yet tapped into the potential power of this relationship. We need to ensure that schools can deliver a meaningful message into the heart of the family, and this message is, get involved in a sport, individually or as a family.
Parents need to understand the physical and psychological benefits sport has for their children. From a collective perspective, we then need to remove limiting factors and barriers, roll our sleeves up and make the process of committing to a sport exciting and rewarding.
I see the incredible affect sport can have every day. Tawana below is one very small part of a very big culture we have developed in Ipswich as part of my wife Elena’s legacy. Tawana’s mother has told that if Elena did hadn’t taken tennis to her school, Tawana would have probably remained a couch potato; this is far from an isolated example.
We create great life experiences, and this is part of the process, we are lucky enough to have many foundation friends who support us. Recently Tawana had the opportunity to train in London with Nigel Sears, former Head of Women’s British Tennis, and coach to Ana Ivanovic. It’s fair to say as Andy Murrays father-in-law knows a thing or two about how sport can affect lives!