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Selling off school sports fields in 2010 added to Obesity today

5 March 2010 2,058 views No Comment

plying-field1More than 1,000 lifestyle coaches are being recruited to give ‘couch potato’ primary school children lessons in yoga and cheerleading. Pupils as young as four will have extra-curricular classes in free running, breakdancing and Brazilian martial arts. The government scheme is designed to tackle childhood obesity but was described yesterday as a ‘ridiculous’ waste of taxpayers’ money and a further nail in the coffin of competitive sport. Critics pointed out that Labour has presided over the death of competitive sport in schools and the selling-off of playing fields. Liberal Democrat education spokesman David Laws said: ‘This is yet another expensive, top-down gimmick from a Government which has run out of ideas. Local authorities and primary care trusts are ploughing in additional cash, meaning the total bill could run into millions. The unpaid coaches will include teaching assistants, volunteer parents and lunchtime supervisors trained to provide ‘fun activity sessions’. More specialist staff could be drafted in for some lessons. The coaches will work with children aged from four to 11 who have been identified by healthcare professionals and teachers as not doing enough exercise or lacking confidence in PE lessons. However, since Labour came to power in 1997, 203 school and community pitches have been lost. The Government has even allowed the sell-off of 49 school sports fields since it was chosen to host the 2012 Olympics. A spokesman for Fields in Trust, an organisation which protects playing fields, said it supported attempts to increase physical activity levels among children. She added: ‘However the most effective long-term strategy to ensure that children continue to participate in sport and play both out of school hours and into adulthood is to ensure the availability of free, local outdoor spaces in each and every community in the UK. ‘Securing the future of the country’s stock of playing fields is the best way to achieve this goal.’

Margaret Morrissey, of pressure group Parents Outloud.com , called the scheme ‘gimmicky nonsense’. She said: ‘Everyone has the chance of living healthy lifestyles and we don’t need lifestyle coaches to do that. We have very good PE lessons and children can walk to school. Most local areas also have good swimming pools. ‘The thing that really annoys me is that we are entering an election campaign and the Government is playing politics with children and education.’ Build houses with gardens nd stop putting families in flats with no outside play area

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