Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston visited Prince Albert High School in Birmingham on Wednesday this week, as guest of honour at a ceremony celebrating the impact a country-wide network has made on children and young through the inspiration of Birmingham 2022.

Up to 211,000 children and young people across England have been connected to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and encouraged to be more physically active, thanks to new opportunities provided by the School Games network since the beginning of the school year.

Sport England invested over £2 million of Birmingham 2022 legacy funding into the School Games, a programme delivered by children's charity the Youth Sport Trust, with an aim to inspire children and young people to be physically active for life through positive experiences of daily activity and competition.

The School Games Celebration Event was taking place to recognise the School Games Organisers, Active Partnerships and Schools working across the country to achieve these game changing results:

  • 211,000 opportunities have been created for children and young people to engage with positive sport experiences and take part in physical activity
  • The programme also actively engaged young people with Special Education Needs or disability (SEND) and those from Ethnically Diverse Communities (14% and 16% respectively), driving equal opportunities to access sport and physical activity
  • The programme engaged girls and boys alike with a split of (49% and 51% ) respectively getting active
  • In addition to the health benefits, the programme saw children and young people develop key social skills, good mental wellbeing, and life skills such as leadership and resilience
  • The work by the School Games reached across England with 1,929 events taking place

The School Games' goal to use Birmingham 2022 as a moment to engage young people with positive experiences of sport and physical activity was essential to tackling the issue of inactive young people. This followed Sport England research, which found there were 94,000 fewer active children and young people in 2020-21 compared to the year before the COVID-19 pandemic with those from less affluent families remaining the least active, and this differential gap has widened since the start of the pandemic.

Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston commented; "It's been fantastic to see children getting active and enjoying themselves. Events like these really do demonstrate the power of sport in getting people together.

"Thanks to the school's team behind the Commonwealth Games, thousands of school kids across the West Midlands have learnt about the history of the Commonwealth, had special visits from Perry the mascot, and some have even met with Team England athletes.

"Ten Years on from London 2012, it's heart-warming to see how legacy programmes such as School Games continue to engage and inspire young people. I really hope Birmingham 2022 will do the same for this region."

Each local School Games representative, called a School Games Organiser, Active Partnerships and the London Youth Games received funding to enable them to collaborate and create Birmingham 2022-inspired opportunities. This ranged from Commonwealth Games Festivals, visits from past athletes or excursions to outdoor activity centres.

Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust said: "We know through our own research that there's great motivational power in watching athletes achieve extraordinary things and seeing a range of sports which aren't often televised. However, local participation opportunities are essential to translate that interest into increased engagement. With the support of the School Games network, we have been harnessing the anticipation and excitement around Birmingham 2022 since the start of the academic year and taking it directly into schools across the country.

"The level of participation so far has been fantastic, but we know there is more work to do if we are to support children to develop healthy habits for life once the excitement of the Commonwealth Games is over. Enabling every child and young person to do 60 active minutes a day, the Chief Medical Officer's recommended daily amount of physical activity for 5-16-year-olds, needs to be a national priority."

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: "We're delighted to see how many children and young people have participated in the Birmingham 2022-inspired events so far, with those partners accessing the additional funding now able better to target and engage children and young people who would benefit most from opportunities to be active.

"This work does not stop when Birmingham 2022 comes to a close, however. The challenge from that point onwards is to continue using this momentum to reach and inspire even more children and young people to remain active."

Sport England has also invested Birmingham 2022 legacy funding into this year's School Games National Finals, the UK's biggest multi-sport event for young people, taking place at Loughborough University in September. The event provides opportunities for young people both on and off the field of play, thanks to a range of experiences including education, volunteering and competing. 

To find out more about the positive impact they provide children and young people please visit  School Games