Nino Severino: Government is not doing enough for our children

Nino Severino believes sport can be a powerful influence in all aspects of children's lives. Picture

Nino Severino believes sport can be a powerful influence in all aspects of children's lives. Picture: NINO SEVERINO - Credit: Archant

In his latest column Nino Severino discusses the launch of his new mentoring service to help youngsters as he laments the poor physical and mental health of the nation’s children.

The UK ranks poorly in asthma deaths in young people compared to other wealthy countries. Picture: P

The UK ranks poorly in asthma deaths in young people compared to other wealthy countries. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: Getty Images

With the wealth and standard of living we benefit from in the UK, I believe it is utterly embarrassing and disgraceful the powers that be have let this situation develop.

Add this to the fact that we also have the unenviable position of having the most obese 15-19 year olds in Europe, and it clearly supports the fact that there is something severely wrong with the way we are educating and supporting our young children and teenagers in this country about health and wellbeing!

The Elena Baltacha Foundation has an official link with our tennis world governing body, which supports our efforts to address some of the deadliest problems we are currently experiencing here in Ipswich and the surrounding areas.

We are involved in offering fitness through sport, and also addressing healthy lifestyle habits through choosing sport as a positive area of their lifestyle.

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But we do not possess the power and influence of the government, and we have limited resources in terms of personnel on the ground and finances.

The government, and the individuals whose job it is to create healthy environments for children to grow and develop in, and whose job it is to protect them from companies who are willing to sell products that are clearly addictive and bad for their health, are simply not doing enough for our children.

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I have covered areas of children’s health in my previous columns, but depressingly it is a situation that, rather than improving, seems to be getting worse – something needs to happen, and happen very quickly.

The asthma statistics prompted me to go forensic and study the wider area of health amongst the young people of our nation, and although there are a few positives, including the fact that our young people are drinking and smoking less, we are still – as I put it in an earlier column – sitting on a nuclear health time bomb in terms of millions of our children suffering from severe health issues in later life.

Nino Severino is a world-class coach. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Nino Severino is a world-class coach. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

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As I started to penetrate further into the wider holistic aspects of health, it is not only physical issues, it is also the mental health status that is also showing worrying indicators, with one in four young women suffering from mental illness.

I simply could not believe what I was reading, it seems insane that 25% of our young children, who are only in the first phases of their life paths, are already suffering from the torture the unhealthy mind can inflict on a young developing person.

Unfortunately, this area not only impacts on the young individual themselves, it also impacts on others in the community, as these children will often loses their way in life and cause problems for others through bad behaviour and criminality.

I have experience of this, as I have conducted many meetings in the educational community over the last six months, and through these meetings, I am now launching a mentoring programme through my role at The Hub, Centre of Excellence at The University of Suffolk.

I believe, as do others in the educational community, that sport and its positive experiences can be one of the solutions to dealing with physical and mental issues that our young people are sadly suffering from.

The young people who will join my mentoring programme will be exposed to sport, the life of the athlete, their healthy living regimes, and the mental strength skills they need to develop to make good lifestyle choices and life a healthy and rewarding life.

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Our aim through this programme will be to positively affect as many young pupils as we can, and hopefully re-set their minds and attitudes, which will ultimately empower them to change their lives for the better.

I am not for one minute saying this mentoring programme will save our young nation from poor health and mental suffering, because sadly, it will not – but ultimately it is not my job to do this, I am simply doing the little I can to impact in a positive way through my life’s passion.

But there are an army of individuals, high, medium and lower ranked goverment officials, who have been specifically tasked with this very important job, and to be quite honest, they are getting paid huge amounts of money to do it.

Very sadly it appears they are clearly letting down the children of our nation, and potentially reducing the chances of them having a healthy and happy adulthood!

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