A Cúl way for kids to exercise this summer

Dr. Malie Coyne pictured at the launch of the 2019 Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps campaign in Croke Park yesterday. Picture: Andres Poveda.

Almost 60% of Irish parents don’t know how much daily exercise is recommended for their children. One in three believes 30 minutes is enough — yet Department of Health guidelines say children should be active at a moderate-to-vigorous level for at least one hour a day.

More than half of parents find it difficult to keep kids busy during holidays with activities other than technology — 66% say their children rely too heavily on devices, with YouTube and TV the biggest culprits.

The findings are from a survey of 1,000 parents conducted for the launch of Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps, Ireland’s biggest children’s summer camp — this year, it’s expected over 150,000 children will participate countrywide in a week of fun, friendship, and sport.

The Cúl Camps saw an 8% increase in attendance, year on year, in 2018.

The survey found one in five parents can’t afford to get their children involved in sport — almost one third say they don’t have the time to bring them to training or games.

Identifying the benefits of getting kids physically active, clinical child psychologist Dr Malie Coyne says engaging in Cúl Camps is a win-win for children and parents:

Emotionally, it enhances children’s self-confidence and self-esteem. It fosters strong relationships with peers where they join together in working for a common goal. They make new friends and feel a sense of belonging.

Physical activity reduces stress, says Coyne, adding that children who participate in sport are less likely to struggle with emotional and behavioural issues. “Sport gives an opportunity to channel their energy into something positive.”

Team sports are also great for nurturing resilience. “Children have to manage strong emotions — exhilaration of winning and despair of losing or the unfairness of a referee making a call you don’t agree with, yet you have to dust yourself off and continue the game — it’s a really good life lesson.”

With 86% of parents blaming excessive technology use for holding their children back from being sporty, Coyne says parents must find a balance between letting them have some technology but not becoming over-reliant on it. “It’s about the choices parents make — they could pay a lot of money for a tablet and then not be able to afford cost of registration at a sports club.”

Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps registration is open here.

Place on a Cúl Camp costs €60 for first child; €55 for second child; €45 for third and subsequent children.

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