Children were among those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and many had limited or no access to sport or physical activity opportunities during lockdown, in turn negatively affecting their physical and mental health.
Research commissioned by Sport England used regular surveys during the lockdown period to track activity levels. The research shows that only 19% of young people were meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines and doing an hour of activity each day.
Additionally, the Childwise’s omnibus survey highlighted that lockdown has resulted in familiar inequalities with parents / carers reporting that children from less affluent families are more likely to have done no physical activity (13%) compared to those from more affluent backgrounds (6%).
Through local and national insight and talking to local partners Leap are aware that the barriers to activity for disadvantaged young people are diverse and far reaching.
A complex backdrop of economic and health inequalities magnifies the impact of barriers to getting active, such as confidence or knowing where to go, through to cost, digital exclusion, lack of time and appropriate opportunity. This is why there isn’t a single reason for inactivity among this group, and research into activity levels showed that the Coronavirus pandemic, combined with the closure of schools was only intensifying these inequalities as young people weren’t able to access PE and school sport.
However Leap identified an opportunity for a rapid response to the situation which would help address many of the barriers these young people were facing. The ‘Boredom Busters’ concept was created and comprised of equipment bags full of easy to use equipment with activity cards giving simple ideas of how to use the equipment in both indoor and outdoor settings and with minimal space or guidance.
The concept was shared with the Buckinghamshire Emergency Funding Group and warmly welcomed with members offering to fund further packs which enabled Leap to expand the reach of the project.
Leap was joined in funding the packs by partner organisations The Clare Foundation, the Rothschild Foundation and packing and distribution support from Latimer Hope Trust. The support of these partners has enabled 400 packs to be distributed to families across Buckinghamshire.
Sue Imbriano, Chair of the Leap Board commented,
“The outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) has been an experience shared by all but impacting us very differently. We know the pandemic has resulted in significant numbers of young people missing out on PE and doing less physical activity.”
“We also know that children from deprived backgrounds are doing even less activity. By providing simple, easy to use equipment and fun activity ideas, the Boredom Buster packs remove at least one barrier for the young people of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes to be active over the Summer holidays.
Support from our partners has been vital in enabling us to distribute 400 of these packs to disadvantaged families.”
Leap Director, Mark Ormerod was meeting weekly as part of the Buckinghamshire Emergency Funding Group and commented,
“The Boredom Buster concept was one of many ideas coming weekly to the group; collaboration and partnership were never more apparent.
Through the group I had greater awareness and much more understanding where we should focus our resources and funding. Decisions that typically took days or weeks, were made in hours, because the immediate commitment from partners made providing help quickly viable.”
Mike Clare Founder and Chairman, The Clare Foundation added,
“It is terrific that we are working together and are able to collaborate with our key partners in the County to promote greater opportunities for young people in Buckinghamshire to be physically active over the Summer season.
The Trustees and I are delighted that this partnership between ourselves, Latimer Hope Trust and the Rothschild Foundation has helped Leap support a key number of families who have been impacted by the Coronavirus.”
The ‘Boredom Buster’ equipment packs included items such as foam balls, bean bags, hula hoops, paddle bats and a frizbee and were accompanied by a set of activity cards, giving fun, easy to try ideas on how to use the equipment to get active.
In Buckinghamshire, local Christian charity Restore Hope supported the project by putting the packs together and helping distribute through their community connections, alongside Buckinghamshire Council who facilitated the distribution of packs through the family centres.
Whilst evaluation of the project is still ongoing and feedback from young people is continuing to be gathered, initial responses have been encouraging.
Restore Hope Latimer commented,
"The families who have been in receipt of this have been very thankful, one was telling me just this morning that her little boy has been sleeping with the football!"
Follow the progress of the project at www.leapwithus.org.uk