We agree wholeheartedly with Tessa Jowell and share her concerns, especially those relating to children and young people (Coalition wasted Olympic school sport legacy: Jowell, 6 July). Schools are important settings for promoting health and should work with pupils and their parents/carers to address this concern, encouraging children and young people to participate in a range of physical activities and to understand how such activity is beneficial to health and mental wellbeing.
Physical activity must mean not only structured activity in the curriculum through physical education and sport, but also those other physical leisure activities available in school and in the community. Any activity which enables children and young people to be warm and breathless for significant periods of time which they enjoy and overcomes the barriers to participation brought about by disability, gender, religion and culture, should be valued. Compounded by government education policy, schools still focus too much on traditional team games, which include few and exclude so many.
Schools must be given the capacity to nudge children and young people in the right direction. Perhaps we should now have some of the UK heroes of this spectacular event providing high-profile leadership to a multifaceted healthy eating and exercise campaign.
Michael Craig Watson Associate professor of public health, University of Nottingham
John Lloyd Immediate past president, Institute of Health Promotion and Education
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