Manchester school children promoting the ‘Get Manchester Active’ campaign, before lockdown
Chris Leggett

Member Article

Free activity session offer for Manchester schools kept open despite COVID-19 lockdown

A not-for-profit sports training provider is pushing on with delivering free physical activity sessions to Greater Manchester schools despite the set backs caused by the national COVID-19 lockdown.

Not-for-profit Dream Big Sports say they remain committed to ensuring the negative impact on children’s physical health and wellbeing is minimised as school provision is significantly reduced during the national lockdown.

In December, the big-hearted Oldham-based company launched the ‘Get Manchester Active’ campaign, which saw schools across the region sign up to claim their share of 2021 hours of free physical activity sessions.

Applications were submitted by schools from across Greater Manchester, each wanting their pupils to take advantage of the offer, equalling £45,000 of investment which has been put forward by the non-profit organisation.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham supported the launch last month. Mr Burnham said: “The health and wellbeing of young people in the city-region is incredibly important. It is not only about maintaining physical health after the pandemic but mental health too, which is why I fully support Dream Big Sports and the Get Manchester Active campaign.”

The deteriorating situation with COVID-19 and a third national lockdown introduced by the Government had threatened to derail Dream Big Sports’ ambition to get children active and “catch up” with lost hours from 2020.

However, the organisation and team behind the campaign are as committed as ever in achieving their goal, reshaping the offer so that schoolchildren can access sessions.

The team, based in Oldham, have adapted their provision and provided over 30 hours of free virtual PE lessons, yoga sessions and dance lessons to schools to ensure PE and physical activity remains at the heart of schools and households during this lockdown.

Director Dale Harris said the lockdown had set back plans “to head into the new year and really get moving with the campaign”.

He explained: “We had schools signed up ready for the provision but the safety of teachers, children and our team has to be the priority. The additional catch up provision is needed more than ever before because the region’s young people will miss physical exercise so our commitment to the campaign hasn’t wavered at all, we simply have a shorter time period to execute it now.

“We have had to adapt like everyone else. Whilst we continue to support schools with their provision or keyworker and vulnerable children we have created a comprehensive and high quality online learning platform which has be accessed by schools right across the region, in fact more than 1700 children accessed it in the first week.

“The feedback from parents, families, children and schools has been fantastic and we will continue to do this throughout the lockdown period. It is vital for children’s health and well-being they continue to stay active whilst at home.”

It was reported that less than 19% of children took part in the recommended one hour per day of physical activity during the first lockdown. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman stated in the recent Ofsted Annual Report: “Our reports show that children’s physical fitness has suffered from lockdown. School leaders told us that children came back less active and less fit. This highlights the importance of physical education and school sport.” 

Dream Big Sports is a not-for-profit organisation based in Cobden Street, Chadderton, which provides sporting and educational opportunities for disadvantaged or deprived young people to help them achieve their dreams.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Chris Leggett .

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