The headteacher column with Richard Harrison

Headteacher at Market Weighton School Richard Harrison.
Headteacher at Market Weighton School Richard Harrison.

In schools we have always encouraged young people to take part in sport and take regular exercise.

In most secondary schools students take part in at least two hours of exercise each week during PE lessons and we encourage participation in a range of sporting activities outside of normal school hours.

Perhaps the recent Tour de Yorkshire has inspired you to get on your bike.

Perhaps the recent Tour de Yorkshire has inspired you to get on your bike.

Parents play an important role by encouraging their children to join clubs, supporting them from the side lines and providing transport to a succession of activities.

We all know the physical benefits of sport on cardiovascular fitness and weight management but, in recent weeks, television programmes have shown the many other benefits of regular exercise.

The London Marathon always provides inspiration and this year saw a record number of runners competing and raising record sums for charity. However, it was one man who made all the headlines after stopping to help a fellow runner who was close to collapse just 200m from the finish line.

The resulting images of an athlete giving up his opportunity for a fast time to help a complete stranger were inspirational and provided a great stimulus for assemblies the following week as we encouraged our students to volunteer to become Peer Mentors.

The 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year is the ‘Heads Together’ campaign spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

There has been huge progress made to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health in recent decades but it still remains a key issue driven by negative associations, experience and language. Through this campaign, their Royal Highnesses are keen to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that stigma no longer prevents people getting the help they need. The BBC also aired a programme called ‘Mind over Marathon’ following 10 unlikely runners as they trained to complete the event.

The programme highlighted the positive benefits that running has on mental health, a topic that is very much in the news at present particularly in schools with an increase in the reported numbers of young people suffering from mental health issues.

Many young people struggle with a range of mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I am sure anyone who plays regular sport or exercises regularly would agree that it provides a great stress relief and helps mental health.

So, as parents and grandparents please do encourage participation in sport and regular exercise. Perhaps the Tour de Yorkshire inspired you to get on your bike. If it did, I can fully recommend it as there is nothing like a ride out across the Wolds to clear your head and raise your heart rate.