London Youth Games tackles loneliness amongst young people during Children’s Mental Health Week

8th Feb 2022
Yolanda Martin
group of girls at Sportshall Athletics

As the Winter Olympics gets underway in Beijing, the London Youth Games’ first event of 2022 also kicks off in Islington, Harrow and Sutton in London.

A new season of 65 London Youth Games events will help support young people’s mental and physical health through the power of competitive sport. The events, held at Sobell Leisure Centre, Harrow Leisure Centre and Westcroft Leisure Centre on 7th-11th February to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week, are a big boost to children’s mental wellbeing after studies from Sport England show that children are feeling more lonely now than 12 months ago.

The first London Youth Games event of 2022 – Sportshall Athletics – gives school children in Years 5-8 across London – the chance to compete in running, jumping and throwing competitions. 58.1% of children and young people in London do less than an average of 60 minutes activity a day, according to latest figures from Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey. The London Youth Games aims to create sporting opportunities to get children active.

Training for competitions gives children and young people a goal to work towards and helps them to build connections with friends. It’s been shown that active children also do better at school, helping children concentrate better in the classroom, boost their memory and to get better grades.

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.


Jodie Leslie, Greenwich Team Manager said: “Being involved in London Youth Games has been really beneficial for the students, especially after missing so much school. It’s especially helped one of the girls who has been struggling. It’s helped her to feel more confident in herself. It’s brilliant.”

Kayla from Greenwich said: “I love doing sports because it helps me mentally. It helps me when I feel low because it helps me feel higher and makes my emotions better.”

Freddie from Havering said: “Sometimes I felt a bit down during the pandemic. At those times, I just went in the garden to practice and it helped me feel a lot better.”

Mark Duncan, Havering Team Manager said: “The Sportshall Athletics event is a great way to bring students from across the year together. There’s really good social interaction and we’ve got one person within the team who leads the others and that helps their communication skills. For their mental health and physical health, it’s a really good release for them.”