Children need PE, sport to cope during pandemic
As Jamaica’s education system seeks to find ways to handle the coronavirus and the potential return of school, sports psychologist Dr Olivia Rose noted that keen consideration must be given to both the psychological and health impact of physical education and recreational activities on children.
Rose was speaking at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in their recent webinar, ‘Practical Solutions, Embracing the New Norm in Physical Education’
“Of course, physical education (PE) is a powerful means to foster physical fitness and even more critical for children’s mental well-being, social attitude, and behaviour. It may not be just about winning or improving your rank or even getting a trophy (when we have a return of sports). We may have to see an invention in new games to boost the mood and morale of our children to help foster their growth. The world is changing. We need to adjust and find new goals that can still keep children actively involved,” Rose said.
Maurice Wilson, principal at G.C. Foster, admitted that the absence of face-to-face interaction in physical education and sports would certainly have a psychological impact on children. He noted, however, that PE teachers have to find ways to make students have fun within the constraints of COVID-19 protocols.
“One of the things that sports does is to bring out that camaraderie and human element, whether it be through celebrating, a word of advice, or just that competitive edge. We must realise that we are now in a pandemic, and it will come down to a decision between life or sporting camaraderie. We have to train our young ones, at least for the interim, that there should be no contact at this point in time until there is a vaccine. We want and will still organise ways for them to have fun, but at this time, we have to abide by the protocols,” said Wilson, who is also the track and field coach of Sprintec and the college team.
Wilson also highlighted the physical health effects of not being engaged in physical and recreational activities. He noted that PE teachers have a huge role to play in the public’s understanding of the importance of physical activity.
“They have a role to play. As a matter of fact, a part of the educational process is to educate persons of how important physical activity is. If the students were educated a particular way, then they would know the importance,” Wilson said.
“Undoubtedly, we knew, even before the pandemic, that our students were not doing enough physical activity, and obesity at all levels had increased. So even though it’s a pandemic and we want people to stay safe, we also wouldn’t want people to come out of it with some form of poor health-related illnesses,” he added.
Wilson continued: “First, the students must be educated on the importance of physical activity in terms of just living, and then PE teachers [should] use the opportunity to organise sessions and a means of earning in the period.”