Inspired to start new venture by daughter, and obesity stats – The Northern Echo

Posted: August 28, 2020 at 9:56 am

Few, if any people will have complete physical, mental and social wellbeing all the time. Trevor Smith, senior member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, will join us every week to talk about health and wellbeing

This week I wanted to introduce the topic of physical activity in children and where better to begin than with my own daughter, Sophie.

Sophie arrived in April 2017 and it is no exaggeration to say that it completely rocked our world.

We had been settled in the Middle East for the previous 16 years, where the temperature was over 40 degrees for three-quarters of the year. This had never bothered us before, but when I took my newborn baby outside, I was worried that she would spontaneously combust.

After a year, we had only been home to see the family once, so she had no relationship with family members, which was particularly difficult for her grandparents, who had missed all her first milestones and she would push them away because they were effectively strangers.

There were no seasons in Muscat, so no experiences like playing in the autumn leaves, jumping in puddles or building a snowman. There were other enjoyable experiences, but we still felt she was missing out. It really got us thinking about her development and were we giving her the best opportunity to become a well-rounded individual.

I remember reading something at the time that has stuck with me until now, it said the least fit child in an average classroom in 1998 would now be one of the fittest children in 2017. I wondered if my daughter would be physically active enough if she was not able to go outside and run around. She would not even be able to ride a bike up and down the street.

Just after her second birthday, we made the tough decision to return home for the benefit of her social, emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Now I am happy to say that we cannot keep her indoors, even in the middle of a downpour. I must admit I thoroughly enjoy chasing her around the garden in the rain, much to my wifes dismay. She has now had the experience of kicking the leaves on the path down to High Force, being splashed by large waves at Seaburn beach and due to an over influence of Peppa Pig, jumping in muddy puddles at Witton Castle.

It is not the weather, but how you dress for it should be the mantra for our English summers. When its hot you can dip you toes in a paddling pool, then it is lashing down you still need to get out and about to stay happy and healthy

Once back in the UK, with physical activity at the forefront of my new venture with Premier Education, I started researching activity levels of children and physical education in schools. I must admit I was shocked by some of the statistics, with figures in County Durham showing that 24 per cent of reception age children are classed as overweight or obese. That is the equivalent of 46 average sized classrooms across the county.

As Sophie will soon be going into her reception year, I am now worried that she will be one of those children, and that is just from the amount of cake and sweets her nana gives her. I have come to understand that the worries of a parent never end, no matter where you are or what you do!

Last week, we completed an activity camp. It was great to see so many families out, being physically active together especially after lockdown. This year we have not had much of a summer, so I was saddened to see people leave as soon as the rain began because I realised that three-quarters of the year here is basically inclement weather. As my mam told me "its not the weather, its how you dress for it", something I now need to pass onto Sophie, otherwise she will be stuck indoors all over again.


It is a very simple challenge for families. No matter what the weather brings, dress appropriately and be active in some way. Share your pictures on Twitter @TheNorthernEcho and @TSmith_PE

The best pictures will win a prize for your childs school.

If you would like to ask a question or suggest a topic that you would like me to cover in the coming weeks, you can contact me at:

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Inspired to start new venture by daughter, and obesity stats - The Northern Echo

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