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Why it’s not all about the fat kids – let’s celebrate the fit kids too

PUBLISHED: 12:16 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:54 04 October 2018

Norfolk Academy of Gymnastics competitiors at the Norfolk County Competition Not everyone will want to compete, but everyone can benefit from the fitness being involved in sport brings. Picture Elaine Binnie

Norfolk Academy of Gymnastics competitiors at the Norfolk County Competition Not everyone will want to compete, but everyone can benefit from the fitness being involved in sport brings. Picture Elaine Binnie

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Why point at the fat kid when you can applaud the fit kid? asks Jo Malone

A sporting team from Spring Gymnastics - getting involved in sport brings far more than medals and trophies. Picture: Sienna SprongA sporting team from Spring Gymnastics - getting involved in sport brings far more than medals and trophies. Picture: Sienna Sprong

When will they stop making parents feel rubbish?

“They” being anyone who tries to tell us we’re not trying our best for our children; not just the government, some councils and some schools, but very often, other parents and the general public.

It’s about to be ‘let’s make you paranoid about your size’ time for my year six daughter Keola, with the return of the team from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). Everyone was weighed and measured age four-five in their Reception year and now it happens again in year 6.

Let's celebrate the children who do get involved in sport, such as these youngsters from the Norfolk Academy of Gymnastics. Picture Elaine BinnieLet's celebrate the children who do get involved in sport, such as these youngsters from the Norfolk Academy of Gymnastics. Picture Elaine Binnie

But it’s all about identifying the fat kids apparently and inviting them to special sessions to help move them from fat to fit. The information from the NCMP barely mentions the vast numbers of healthy children or sound at all worried about the underweight ones, the children developing eating disorders because all they hear is talk about ‘the obesity problem.’

Surely if you have a fat and unhealthy child you know you have a fat and unhealthy child. You don’t need someone else to highlight it, and if you wanted to do something about it you would.

Why point the finger at the overweight kid? Why can’t we celebrate the healthy children, and make it easier, and cheaper, for everyone to be fit and healthy?

Let's applaud those children who do get involved in sport - such as these youngsters competing for Spring Gymnastics at the Norfolk County Championships. Picture Sienna SprongLet's applaud those children who do get involved in sport - such as these youngsters competing for Spring Gymnastics at the Norfolk County Championships. Picture Sienna Sprong

There are thousands of active children. They’re at gymnastics, athletics, climbing, football, swimming, netball, rugby, cycling and so on. Their parents have put them on waiting lists for this club or that activity and made sure that once they get a place they get there with the right kit at the right time, week after week.

Let’s give those children some credit.

Some train for hours before and after school every week and while some achieve competitively, sport isn’t just for that. It’s about belonging, communicating, about working to get better and seeing that you improve if you put the effort in. It’s making friends, it’s working as a team, it’s getting back up when you fall down, it’s about valuing the achievements of yourself – and others.

Children such as Ava Burrows from the Norfolk Academy of Gymnastics work hard at a sport they love, let's get more involved in sport. Picture Edie BurrowsChildren such as Ava Burrows from the Norfolk Academy of Gymnastics work hard at a sport they love, let's get more involved in sport. Picture Edie Burrows

We were at the UEA last weekend for a gymnastics competition; it involved dozens of children representing their clubs and competing throughout the day. Elsewhere at the Sportspark we saw youngsters doing martial arts, dance, badminton, swimming and running. It was busy: it was full of people loving sport.

We know that besides these children competing, there are many more at their clubs who perhaps don’t compete but do work hard every week, enjoying sport and developing their skills and characters.

There are a vast amount of fit children. Let’s make some noise for them. Let’s make sport even more inclusive and encourage more clubs, more coaches and more facilities so the parents of the not-so-fit want their children to feel that joy too – and find that it’s easy for them to get involved.

Isn’t that better than banging on about obesity and pointing fingers at parents, suggesting they’re so dim they need someone else to tell them their child is fat?

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