Children need to be shown that playing outside is as much fun as being sedentary in front of computer tablets and smart phones – and that enthusiasm will naturally lead to a life-long healthy lifestyle, which will combat both childhood and adult obesity, say experts.
The call from Capre, the new independent Register of Children's Activity Professionals, comes as recently released data showed that 85% of girls and 73% of boys aged 13 fail to do the recommended one hour of physical activity per day, while 25% of children aged 2-15 spend six hours every weekend day being inactive.
Capre is operated by the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, Learning and Well-being, is exhibiting at Leisure Industry Week, at NEC Birmingham on 24 – 26 September.
Stephen Mitchell, Head of National Partnerships at SkillsActive, which operates Capre, says, "it is vitally important that when we encourage children to participate in physical activity and sport, we emphasize the fun element of participation. Taking this approach, rather than solely stressing the healthy-living component is essential to increase engagement and participation. As a result, a child that is enjoying the activities they are participating in, will naturally become healthier as they become more active."
The Department of Health recently announced that a million pounds of government funding would be targeted towards getting more children playing outside, as part of £5m funding aimed at encouraging more people to take part in daily exercise.
Stephen Mitchell says, "We know it takes the right caliber of professionals to drive forward our children's enthusiasm for physical activity and sport. The Capre register regulates and accredits those who work with children in a sport and physical activity setting, including, breakfast-, lunch- and after-school clubs, camps, and birthday parties. Capre professionals play an essential role in encouraging children to get active – and have fun doing so."
Capre will be at stand H255 at the Leisure Industry Week, together with Fit for Sport. Parents visiting the stand will be reassured that all registered children's activity professionals hold the correct qualifications and meet agreed National Occupational Standards. As Capre is currently in a pilot phase, formally launching in the autumn, professionals will find that membership to the register is free, subsidised by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). The pilot also entitles members to 12 months free membership (from the joining date).
Stephen Mitchell adds, "At Capre, we focus on recognising the expertise and qualifications of those working in children's activity roles, who have such an important role in awakening a child's enjoyment in play activities. Parents can be reassured their children are in safe hands while getting more active. Our ultimate goal is for children and young people to become enthusiastic about play and sport, and for physical activity and fitness to become life-long, healthy passions."