According to the Active Healthy Kids Hong Kong2018 report card , only 30% of children in Hong Kong reach the international standard in cardiorespiratory fitness, and more alarmingly, less than 10% of the children meet physical activity guidelines of 60 min of MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activities) per day on average.
As the pandemic gradually comes under control, will children’s health conditions see a new normal? The 2022 report card points out that only 25% of children and adolescents in Hong Kong meet the physical activity guidelines on average on “overall physical activity”. This reflects an insufficient level, and the grade has declined compared with the 2018 Hong Kong Report Card (C-).
Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance’s 2022 report, compiled with data collected from 682 scholars, shows that the physical activity of children and adolescents in 57 countries or regions in six continents of the world is scoring a disappointing D grade. Pandemic-related restrictions, excessive reliance on digital equipment, classroom limits and so on curtail most exercise opportunities in their daily life. High levels of sedentary behaviours also hamper the physical and mental development of children and adolescents. There should be a call to action for societies around the world.
Raymond’s research interests include physical literacy and its application, professionalisation of PE teachers, self-efficacy and learning communities, career development and life of elite sportspersons and so on. According to Whitehead, physical literacy refers to the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engaging in physical activities for life of each individual.
The establishment of PLACY, a social enterprise, allows Raymond and his team to apply professional research to devise a platform with tests and activities for the youths to realise their physical conditions and athletic talents at an early stage, and raise their awareness and understanding towards sports and physical literacy in daily life.
“I have to talk when I do sports. I get to socialise and I am happy. Some athletes, however, can complete sports training independently and reticently.”
There are different types of sports skills. Raymond explains, Closed skills are those in a relatively stable and easy to predict environment with repeated actions but without having to change techniques in response to the opponent’s reactions, such as running, swimming and golf. Whereas open skills are perceptual and reactive according to the opponent’s ability as in ball games and boxing.
“Many athletes fail to scale up their sports skills. In fact, in addition to understanding oneself at different development stages, parents’ observation is also important. An interesting example, some parents arranged social sports for their children because they are introverted and quiet; others give their children swimming lessons because they are too talkative. Our social enterprise will communicate with parents to understand their ways and wishes in nurturing children.”
Raymond has three children, each with different personalities. He shares his parenting wisdom with us, “Some swimmers have two 5000m sessions per day and they are very happy. My youngest daughter was once trained in the Hong Kong Swimming Team. Even though she had good results, she felt miserable when she received more systematic training. What should we do as parents? My second son cried whenever he got into the swimming pool, but he was elated to play ball games. I did not force him to swim and let him enjoy team sports. He is now captain of the CUHK rugby team. My eldest son was full of beans as a young kid. We had to let him exercise regularly to realise his energy so that he could concentrate on his studies. There are lots of choices in every child’s upbringing. Sports can enhance physical literacy, and most importantly provides enjoyment.”
“My parenting experience enables me to advise parents better. Adolescence is an important stage of development for everyone. We need to focus on the well-being of youngsters.”