Can Sport Enhance Mental Health?
Joe Lowther, CEO of Kick London, writes about how sport is helping young people overcome poor mental health, caused by low levels of inactivity, resulting in many health disorders, including depression. He shows how Kick London can work with churches to change the lives of youngsters and make a significant impact on their future lives.
At Kick London we’re convinced that sport can make a positive impact on young people struggling with their mental health.
Young people in the UK are becoming increasingly isolated and inactive. From 1961 to 2005 levels of physical activity dropped by 20 per cent and if current trends continue, will reduce by more than 35 per cent by 2030. As a result, obesity, diabetes, and other health disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent (Sunday Times). Rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70 per cent in the past 25 years as well and we believe there’s a link (Independent).
Matching this rise in mental illness has been cuts to children’s mental health services meaning provision is stretched.
We have a problem, we need to respond; we can respond. An answer: physical activity correlates positively with both emotional well-being, educational attainment and community cohesion.
What we know and see is that sport can reduce stress and depression, often improving a young person’s sleeping habits whilst also helping maintain a healthy weight which improves young people’s self-confidence. Furthermore, sport often improves leadership experience and develops characteristics often required for successful future employability.
At Kick London, our vision sees young people’s lives transformed by God’s love through sport.
Over the past 15 years we’ve developed our sports based provision to tackle this rising tide of poor mental health in young people and today we engage over 7,000 young people a week across London.
Kick London works with churches who see the powerful potential of sport to reach out to young people for God in their communities. Kick London provides churches with the training, equipment, resources, and expertise to set up an Academy.
Our sports based mentoring provision in schools engages young people with someone who listens to them. Enabling and empowering young people to grow through their challenges and provide them with positive directions for change.
We’re seeing real and lasting change in young people’s lives and we’d like to invite you to be part of it.
Want to get involved?
Kick London can help kick start a sports ministry in your parish. You can join us to hear more and find out how you can get involved in running an academy or going into schools to be a mentor. Alternatively, come an evening on Mental Health, Sports Ministry, and your Parish, at London Diocesan House, on the 11th October. Or join the Sports and Physical Activity Network.
Photo from rf123.com.