Regular physical activity has proven particularly important for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who, in general, experience poorer physical health outcomes than other children.
Evidence has indicated that physical activity can improve mental well-being, the development of problem-solving skills, and increased concentration and academic achievement among children with SEND.
When children with SEND engage in physical activity in groups, especially when those groups include children without SEND, they have been found to develop important life skills like verbal and non-verbal communication, sharing and the ability to make and keep friends.
Later in life, these skills will prove crucial when developing supportive social networks, gaining employment and living independently.
‘Inclusive’ physical activities, whereby children with and without SEND participate with and against each other, are beneficial to all children.
As those children without SEND, gain social benefits such as increased tolerance to individual differences, greater awareness and sensitivity to human diversity and the needs of others.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of organisations that are doing excellent work to ensure that children with SEND have the opportunities to develop physical activity habits that last a lifetime.
Like all children, it is important that those with SEND are stretched and challenged so that they can fulfil their sporting and physical activity potential. A child-centric approach has been found to increase motivation, engagement, self-esteem, and feelings of self-worth among children with SEND.