First published in the Lethbridge Herald Wednesday, August 19, 2020
The Lethbridge Sport Council invited families with children to share their COVID-19 experiences. Survey results provided information on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their participation in sport, physical activity, and recreation during the shutdown and through the relaunch.
99 surveys were completed in its entirety, representing 280 children and their families. Families of middle and high school students made up 59% of the respondents. 41% have children in preschool and elementary school.
74% of survey respondents’ children were physically active at least one hour daily. During the COVID shutdown this dropped to 17%. During the Stage 2 relaunch, less than half have returned to their same level of activity. Children not active at all jumped 12% when the COVID shutdown occurred.
Parents completed five questions with their children. Not surprisingly 94% of children miss their friends and social interaction. 93% stated that their daily schedules have been altered.
75% of children experienced changes to their eating habits and their motivation. Other impacts included missing developing their skills (82%), changes in mood (80%), missing training and competition (71%), and changes in sleeping patterns and habits (63%).
The shutdown of sport was not all negative. 71% enjoyed eating family meals together. 69% enjoyed time for unstructured play and 62% enjoyed being active as a family.
Over 85% of children miss having fun and being with friends. 57% of children said they are afraid of getting sick when they can return to their sport, physical activity, and active recreation.
To counter, children were asked what they disliked about sport, physical activity, and active recreation. 28% stated they dislike having to choose one sport. 17% stated there is no time to just play. Parents added comments about the high cost and the time commitment. However, 82% of parents said fitting sports into their schedule is not a barrier to resume sport participation.
Financially, 42% of respondents stated that their households have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Pre-COVID, 32% of families invested over $300 monthly in sport, physical activity, and recreation. Post-COVID we see an anticipated drop to 23% of families investing over $300 monthly.
Most parents (78%) are comfortable with their children resuming individual pickup sports such as shooting and running, and neighbourhood pickup games such as basketball and soccer (61%). The comfort level decreases with community sport (57%), school intramural sports (53%), school sports (51%), and travel/elite or club league sports (36%).
41% of parents are afraid of their children becoming sick if they start playing sports again. 44% are afraid they or other family members will get sick if their children return to sport.
78% of families have engaged in activities with family and friends during the shutdown, with 63% continuing to train and be physically active at home on their own. One respondent said that they “only played in the backyard and house. Now we go to the playground, spray park, for walks, and play with close neighbourhood friends. Kids now go to full time daycare so I can work and there is always physical play there.”
One family has taken up golfing at one of the five courses in Lethbridge. Other families are walking and biking more on the 77 km of paved pathways and 57 km of natural trails within the City of Lethbridge.
We know that sport, physical activity, and active recreation (SPAR) help make individuals, families, and communities stronger and healthier. A strong SPAR sector will significantly aid the economic, health, and social impact of Lethbridge and area residents as our community recovers from and moves beyond COVID-19.
COVID-19 pandemic resources for sport are updated regularly and can be found on the Lethbridge Sport Council website https://lethbridgesportcouncil.ca/.