Over the past few weeks, millions of young people have returned to school for the first time in 6 months. For most, this will have been the single biggest ‘break’ from mainstream education they will ever experience. The restrictions imposed by COVID-19 meant that many missed out on experiencing key milestone events, others no longer had access to support services, school sport became a distant memory and some found it nearly impossible to simply access their schoolwork remotely from home.
This week, the Youth Sport Trust released a report detailing the views of school PE leads who have seen first-hand the alarming impact of lockdown on pupil’s wellbeing and fitness levels. Almost ¾ of teachers report their pupils are returning to school low fitness levels, pupils themselves have been reported as feeling like ‘caged animals’ during lockdown. Sadly, around 40% of schools are not providing extracurricular PE this side of Christmas, and near to half of schools are providing less PE than before lockdown citing concerns around guidance and restrictions making it a logistical nightmare.
A key concern for teachers and schools is the mental wellbeing issues being presented during the first few weeks of the new term. When asked what the biggest challenge to children’s wellbeing was on return to school, almost half responded citing mental wellbeing issues including anxiety and low confidence where pupils were ‘fearful of new routines’ and had presented with ‘anxieties about crowds’.
At The Harlequins Foundation, in an attempt to support local schools to ensure sports & physical activity remain key to supporting children and young people’s health and wellbeing, we’ve been working on a number of new initiatives. In July of this year, our annual ‘Rival Ride’ event was cancelled due to lockdown and so we adapted to create a virtual ‘Around the Grounds’ fitness challenge. Over 60 fantastic supporters contributed over 10,000 miles to help us travel (virtually) to every Gallagher Premiership Rugby stadium in the country. In doing so we managed to raise over £4,000 towards our ‘Building Brighter Futures’ initiative that enables us to use sports & physical activity to promote wellbeing, develop essential skills and champion inclusive society right throughout our community.
That is why, this October we are launching the ‘Full House Challenge’ specifically for schools as a way of enabling their pupils to remain active, develop essential skills such as Staying Positive, Teamwork & Creativity, and promote wellbeing.
Right now, all of us are excited to have live sport back on our screens, but deep down it’s just not the same without our fantastic supporters cheering us on from the stands. So, by signing up to the ‘Full House Challenge’ we are asking schools, in year groups or as classes, to aim to achieve a virtual ‘Full-House’ by completing 14,816 squats (1 for every seat at our home, The Twickenham Stoop) between them during the autumn term.
The challenge itself provides all pupils with the opportunity to contribute to their team’s efforts whether it be 1 squat a day or 100. For schools operating in bubbles with limited physical movement around the school site, the challenge provides an opportunity to engage all pupils in physical activity at the start of every day or even each lesson, by doing so they’ll each be achieving the CMO’s recommended daily activity levels, satisfying 1 of the 5 key PE Premium Indicators.
Furthermore, where pupils are experiencing difficulties adjusting to new routines, and concentrating for extended periods, the challenge can also be used as an energiser or activator activity, between double lessons for example.
Each school that takes part in the Full House Challenge, will be encouraged to raise money to support The Harlequins Foundation’s Building Brighter Futures initiative. Schools then get the opportunity for those funds to be reinvested directly back into the school in the form of further support from The Harlequins Foundation.
If you want to find out more about the Full House Challenge, then drop us a message and one of our team will get back to you!