JUSTIN TOMLINSON: The importance of exercise, health and life skills from an early age

By Swindon Link - 26 February 2015

Opinion and Features

Sport plays an absolutely vital role in our community. Not only does it promote health and well-being, but it teaches essential life skills including teamwork, communication and discipline. It also encourages competitiveness and determination, whilst offering experiences of being on the winning side, as well as the losing one. For young people, it is crucial that they gain experience of such skills so that they can be fully equipped as they enter adulthood and look to thrive in the real world.

In Parliament, I have consistently supported sports campaigns and championed school sports. I also led the campaign to ensure that the school sports budget remained protected, resulting in a ring-fenced budget that continues to build new sports facilities in schools across the UK, as well as encouraging top sporting experts to become teachers. I have also been keen to ensure that children get sufficient time each week on the sports field, or in the sports hall, to build on the valuable skills that sport produces.

Last week, it was half term for children across Swindon. Although this delights pupils, it often presents a bit of a headache for working parents who have to ensure that their child is catered for throughout the week. It’s also tricky to ensure that children are getting enough activity during the holidays, and not just watching TV or playing video games.

A solution for many parents in North Swindon, especially those in the Northern Sector, could be Draycott Sports Camp which I was delighted to visit last week. The camp is run by Mark Draycott at Oakhurst Primary School where he is also a PE teacher. The idea was to create an exciting, fun and friendly atmosphere for children of all abilities to enjoy their school holidays.

There was something for everybody, as the activities spread across a range of sports including netball, football, hockey, lacrosse, cricket and gymnastics. On my arrival I was immediately challenged by the 75 energised youngsters to see how many kick-ups I could do and if I could shoot a netball hoop. Thankfully, my experience of playing on the Parliamentary Football Team meant that I didn’t embarrass myself completely!

The camp is a truly fantastic initiative that is well-organised and focused on catering for everybody. I only wish that there had been something similar available to me when I was growing up. Mark deserves full credit for establishing the camp and creating such a great asset for the local community. Parents should definitely consider them if they are looking for ways to keep their child active over the school holidays.


Click to contact Justin Tomlinson

All images Richard Wintle of Calyx

Justin Tomlinson at Oakhurst primary school

Justin Tomlinson at Oakhurst primary school

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