Most schools require all pupils to take part in sports programmes. These are usually dominated by competitive games teams, and focus heavily on the most able athletes. Success is usually measured in goals scored and games won.
Physical Activity, in its various forms, has the possibility of impacting both positively and negatively on all pupils. Its potential for influencing self esteem, confidence, body image, peer leadership, academic progress and social integration are considerable. The ways in which schools structure and operate their games programmes will determine whether or not there will be positive outcomes for all pupils.
This Conference looks at the wider implications of physical activity for the mental and physical health of teenagers. It considers the potential impacts of sport and exercise on wellbeing, and the ways in which schools’ decisions and policies have significant consequences for individual pupils. There has been considerable recent research into the potential impact of games and exercise on health; many of these findings will be presented in order to inform the school policies of the future.
It is widely believed that competitive games have a positive influence on children. It emerges that games themselves are neutral, and it is the way that schools present them that determines whether the impact is positive or negative. The selection and rejection mechanisms that inevitably accompany competition have greater, and longer lasting, significance than is often realised. The ways in which schools handle this, and the consistency of approach, determine the influence on the self image of those involved.
The priorities for physical activity in schools of the future will need to go far beyond scoring goals and winning trophies if its true health promoting potential – both physical and mental – is to be realised. Whilst schools continue to devote time, and attach importance, to sports, the capacity for impact upon wellbeing cannot be underestimated.
The Impact of Declining Levels of Health and Fitness in Teenagers
with Dr Gavin Sandercock
Physical Self, Athletic Identity and Mental Wellbeing
with Rebecca Chidley
The Wider Benefits of Active Lifestyles for Teenagers
with Professor Andy Smith
Selection, Rejection and Self Esteem in School Sport
with Neil Rollings
Optional Seminar Programme
(Choose ONE of the following sessions)
The Pressure to be Better as a Teenager: Understanding Motivation and Building Resilience
with Andy Gaskell
Can Games Really Develop Character?
with Neil Rollings
Using Technology to Identify Mental Health Concerns
with Richard Lucas