London Youth Games looking to boost children's mental health

The 2022 London Youth Games begins with sportshall athletics events

The 2022 London Youth Games begins with sportshall athletics events - Credit: LYG

London Youth Games holds its first event of 2022 in Islington, Harrow and Sutton this week.

A new season of 65 London Youth Games events will help support young people’s mental and physical health through the power of competitive sport. 

The events, held at Sobell Leisure Centre, Harrow Leisure Centre and Westcroft Leisure Centre from February 7-11 to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week, are a big boost to children’s mental wellbeing after studies from Sport England show that children are feeling more lonely now than 12 months ago.

The first London Youth Games event of 2022 - Sportshall Athletics - gives school children in years 5-8 across the capital the chance to compete in running, jumping and throwing competitions. 

Youngsters in London are set to compete in the London Youth Games sportshall athletics events

Youngsters in London are set to compete in the London Youth Games sportshall athletics events - Credit: LYG

Some 58.1 per cent of children and young people in London do less than an average of 60 minutes activity a day, according to latest figures from Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey. 

The London Youth Games aims to create sporting opportunities to get children active, with training for competitions giving children and young people a goal to work towards and helping to build connections with friends. 

It has been shown that active children also do better at school, helping children concentrate better in the classroom, boost their memory and to get better grades.

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World 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith began her athletics career representing Bromley at the London Youth Games and so the Sportshall Athletics event could inspire the next generation of athletics stars.

Youngsters in London are set to compete in the London Youth Games sportshall athletics events

Youngsters in London are set to compete in the London Youth Games sportshall athletics events - Credit: LYG

Bethan from Barking & Dagenham said: "Training during lockdown gave me that freedom to escape the outside world and practice things I really loved.

"Sport makes you feel more alive and better about yourself. You realise you have the freedom to do something that other people don’t get a chance to do.

"Being picked from my borough is an achievement for me. I feel proud of myself for doing that.

"It also helps in teamwork as well. It’s helped me to get to know more people and experience more things."

Frances, also of Barking & Dagenham, added: "Practising makes me feel so much better. I can put all my time and effort into getting the best result that I believe will help me and my team.

"I feel really proud of myself for being able to get to the London youth games. It’s been an amazing experience and an amazing journey for me and I will never forget it."

Newham youngster Samuel said: "Training for the athletics made me focus. It helped me forget about all the bad things that were happening in the world  and focus on my sport.

"Competing here makes me feel proud of my borough and proud of what school I’m from."

Havering team manager Mark Duncan added: “The Sportshall Athletics event is a great way to bring students from across the year together. There’s really good social interaction and we’ve got one person within the team who leads the others and that helps their communication skills. For their mental health and physical health, it’s a really good release for them.”

And team member Freddie said: “Sometimes I felt a bit down during the pandemic. At those times, I just went in the garden to practice and it helped me feel a lot better.”