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11 May 2022 | 9:09

The Youth Sport Trust has launched a new long-term strategy which will aim to help all young people balance the demands of the digital age with being physically active, happy and healthy by the year 2035. 

The 13-year strategy will form a key component of the Sport for Development Coalition's ‘Open Goal’ framework which specifies ‘Closing the gap in education and development’ as one of five principal outcomes targeted by the Coalition’s UK-wide network of more than 230 charities and organisations. 

The publication of 'Inspiring Changemakers, Building Belonging' follows research commissioned by the Youth Sport Trust and conducted by YouGov, which shows 83% of parents are concerned that children are spending too much time online and not enough time with one another. The findings also revealed 81% of parents are concerned that young people aren’t getting enough physical activity.


The new strategy outlines how it will be vital to inspire ‘changemakers’ – including teachers, young people, organisations, families and influencers – so that every young person can learn in a healthy way what belonging really feels like, and for young people to have a positive personal identity which comes from play and sport.  

Alison Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust and a Board member of the Coalition, said: “We are staring in the face of a ‘new pandemic’ of increasing rates of self-harm and children struggling in a digital age. Urgent action is needed.  

“Children’s social and emotional wellbeing is in decline, and the findings today show there is a real concern from parents that their children are not getting enough play and sport. We know that unhappy, unhealthy children don't learn as effectively. If children don't learn we won't have a society fit for the future. When children play and are physically active, they are happy, healthy and achieve.

“There is compelling evidence for the case for more play and sport in children’s lives and pockets of inspiring practice, but more drastic change is needed, and we know we can’t do it alone. Today we begin a rallying call to inspire more changemakers on this mission. Daily physical activity, play and the development of physical literacy should be an integral part of every childhood.”  

Youth Sport Trust says it will dramatically change its approach to support those most in need. Starting locally and building momentum, it will galvanise and inspire changemakers to transform attitudes, improve practice and drive policy change. The charity hopes that together the power of play and sport can be harnessed to build belonging for a generation, improving their health, fostering inclusion and developing character and leadership. 

Findings from Active Lives – Children and Young People show in the 2020/21 academic year, 44.6% of young people (3.2 million) averaged at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day – the recommended amount set by the Chief Medical Officer. This is down from 44.9% last year, and represents a drop of 94,000. 2.3 million young people (32.4%) averaged less than 30 minutes per day (compared with 31.3% last year). 

  • To read the new findings and strategy in full visit, click here.
  • Schools, families and organisations can also start to take action by signing up to the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week campaign this summer.