Sport and exercise are an important part of keeping fit and healthy, both for the body and the mind. Getting into a good exercise routine early is especially important for young people. Recent data identified over a fifth of children in reception class are overweight or obese, a figure that rises to over a third by year six. It is a similar story with mental health affecting one in ten young people.
On my recent visit to Chichester High School, I was really impressed by their emphasis on sport which is being spearheaded by the new Head Teacher, Mrs McKeown. At the school, I got a chance to see first-hand a whole host of different sports and activities including spin classes, table tennis and their impressive gym. It was great to see such a diverse range of things to do especially the work being done to encourage support girls into sport. The school is introducing activities like a girl’s weights and gym class, and more exciting options like street dance, which is understandably popular. I even (attempted!) to join in with a dance routine to Ariana Grande!
Creating exercise spaces is very important as currently only 8% of girls are meeting the recommended exercise guidelines nationally. These spaces also provide an opportunity to tackle deeper issues such as body image and support wellbeing and mental health. This is vitally important particularly as we focused on this in Parliament during “Eating Disorder Awareness Week” which affects over a million people. Recent figures show numbers are growing especially amongst young people.
A vibrant CCF (Combined Cadet Force) programme is also offered at Chichester High School. It was great to see cadets run through their drills and meet Capt. Cartwright who runs the programme with the help of dedicated volunteers, one of whom has been there for around 50 years. Chi High is one of only 60 state schools to run a CCF programme nationally and recently celebrated 3rd place in the South West Regional RAF competition. CCF has been the first step for many of those who have gone on to achieve remarkable success, like our local Astronaut Tim Peake and former Red Arrow 3 pilot, Mike Child and I’m sure will inspire many more leaders in the future.