Athletes feel ‘less lonely’ after competing in London Youth Games

9th Feb 2023
Yolanda Martin

A new season of London Youth Games events is supporting young people’s mental and physical health this Children’s Mental Health Week.

New research found 29% of participants said they felt less lonely than before taking part in London Youth Games.

The events, held at Redbridge Sports Centre and Harrow, Brentford and Westcroft Leisure Centre on 7th-10th February, boosted young Southwark athlete’s mental wellbeing and health through the power of competitive sport.

Anxiety and depression in young people has skyrocketed in recent years, as well as growing teen suicide rates. Sportshall Athletics gives school children in Years 5-8 across London the chance to compete in events testing their speed, strength and stamina in a fun way.

Naomi, Southwark athlete said: “Athletics makes me feel happy, it releases all the negative energy out of my body and makes me feel relaxed. It just takes my mind off everything.”

Shalom, Barking and Dagenham athlete, said: “Athletics has helped my mental health a lot. Loads of my friends do athletics and I’ve really built a strong connection with them and they’re now some of my best friends. You can get away from all your problems when you run.”

Dina Asher-Smith began her athletics career representing Bromley at the London Youth Games and so the Sportshall Athletics event could inspire the next generation of athletics stars. Teams are competing for a place for the Sportshall Athletics finals which will take place on 21st March at Redbridge Sports Centre.

Emilly Sanderson, Southwark Team Manager, said: “For many of these girls, athletics is sometimes the one thing that gets them through their day. For a lot of the girls, if they’ve had a bad day, they’ll come into training and they won’t be in a good headspace. By the end of training, they have had a laugh with their friends, they’re feeling better, and all of those tough emotions and feelings from before are no longer an issue.”