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Giving Young People a Sporting Chance

24 July 2012

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few weeks, you are probably at least dimly aware that the Olympics are nearly upon us. One of the main reasons London secured the Games ahead of Paris was the focus the bid put on legacy, specifically the positive impact the Games would have on sports participation in the UK.

As a nation we urgently need that promise to turn into concrete, positive action. Britain is the third most slothful nation in Europe according to recently published research and the projected impact on morbidity and the already overburdened NHS is sobering. Many more of us need to start moving more, and more regularly, if we don’t want lack of physical activity to blight our lives.

But sport isn’t only about getting more of us to burn calories and improve health and wellbeing, it is one of the most powerful catalysts for turning young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour and helping them engage positively with society and improve their own outlook. This is particularly pertinent at the moment as the anniversary of last year’s riots is nearly upon us.

A new survey commissioned by our client, Give More, highlights the impact a lack of sport opportunities is having on our communities – 19% of UK adults believe a lack of activities for young people was one of the main causes of the riots last August, rising to 23% amongst parents of 16-18 year olds. The research comes against the backdrop of recent figures which show a 1.6% decline in sports participation amongst 16-25 year olds and the new ‘Reading the Riots’ study, which shows consensus about the level of disenfranchisement of young people and the need to invest in youth to prevent further disorder.

The government has announced a commitment as part of the Olympic legacy to create thousands of new community sports clubs, but they won’t get off the start line without also recruiting a huge number of new volunteers to bring those clubs to life. Community sport relies heavily on volunteers, formally through coaches and administrators, and informally through the support of parents and friends.

That’s why Give More is asking all of us to show our support for more people to give more time and energy to community sport, and for those who can to consider taking part in the ‘Join In’ weekend on 18/19 August –

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