Thursday, April 4, 2013

Worth, Pride and Ambition, by Keith Towler (Children's Commissioner for Wales)

Keith Towler is the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. His job is to stand up and speak out for children and young people. He works to make sure that children and young people are kept safe and that they know about and can access their rights.

Here, he sets out why the School Sport Survey is such an important tool to empower young people in Wales.

How many of you watched last summer’s Olympics and Paralympics? How many of you were glued to the TV, or even lucky enough to watch an event in person? I don’t think that I’m alone in saying that I was glued to every bit of it. And six months later the events of the summer are still having an effect on children and young people here in Wales. Just this week I met a disabled young person who was feeling inspired by what he had seen in the Summer, telling me that his greatest ambition was to be on Team GB’s wheelchair basketball team at the next Olympics in 2016. 

It just goes to show the power of sport to inspire and unite people – around clubs, communities and countries. It’s this passion that Sport Wales wants us all to harness to create an environment where every child and young person in Wales can live in communities without barriers, without fears, without prejudices. Whilst access to play and recreational activity is a child’s fundamental right, let’s look at this as a wider opportunity to instil a sense of worth, pride and ambition in our children. It provides them with a sense of belonging – perthyn.

This is why I am supporting Sport Wales’ plans to undertake a national School Sport Survey here in Wales almost a year after the Olympics and Paralympics began. In 2011 their survey found out what nearly 40,000 of our children aged between 3 and 11 thought about sport in their schools. And this year they hope to find out the opinions of even more children. It is vital that every child in Wales has the opportunity to tell us what they think about sport, what they like and dislike about different sports, which sports they would like to an opportunity to take part in and what their attitudes are towards health, fitness and well-being.

The survey will help provide vital information to schools, education departments and our policy makers. It will help us to understand the role that physical education and sport plays in contributing to the physical, social and emotional well-being of all pupils. If we are to build on the sporting legacy of 2012 and to achieve Sports Wales’ ambition of “getting every child hooked on sport for life” then we must have a clear picture of what our sporting landscape looks like to children. We have to listen to what they are telling us and then use this information to plan strategically for the future of sport in our schools. 

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