According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. However, a recent study conducted by the Fun to Move@JC project, which is funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club and co-created by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), found primary school students have reduced their physical activity levels and gained weight amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey “Effects of Pandemic on School Children Report” was revealed today (11 May). Attending guests at the press conference included the Club’s Executive Director, Charities and Community, Leong Cheung, and project leader of Fun to Move@JC and Associate Dean (Research) of CUHK’s Faculty of Education as well as Professor in the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, Professor Amy Ha.
The Fun to Move@JC project is supported by approved funding of over HK$97 million from the Club’s Charities Trust. This support, as for all of the Club’s community initiatives, is made possible through the Club’s integrated business model which enables it to maintain its tax and charity support for Hong Kong. The project is in line with the Club’s long-standing commitment to promoting wellness and active lifestyles for improved community health, which contributes to the betterment of our society.
“The Club is committed to promoting active sports participation. Through cross-sectoral collaboration and innovative ideas, it is supporting a range of sports initiatives for different age groups to enhance physical and mental wellbeing,” said Mr Cheung. “With the aid of school and family collaboration and the use of technology and big data, the Fun to Move@JC project aims to develop a sustainable model that enhances primary students’ physical activity levels, while improving motivation and efficacy. It also helps enhance their physical and mental wellbeing which in turn helps build confidence, team spirit and lifelong positive values.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the project also initiated a series of online activity classes for children and families, including over 500 free online activity classes, pre-recorded online resources for home exercises and family activities, as well as training workshops for teachers on how to structure and deliver online physical education instruction during school closures.
Based on data collected from the sport bands distributed to students in the project, participants can accumulate around 1,000 steps during one 30-minute online class. The data also showed that when students were learning from home between November 2020 and March 2021, nearly half of the participants achieved an average of 8,000 steps per day - a level recommended by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, reflecting that the online classes helped to encourage student participants to exercise.
“The results of the survey we administered to parents in February suggest that the pandemic had a negative impact on the physical activity of children,” Professor Ha explained. “There was a statistically significant correlation between physical activity and children’s physical health, as well as their mental and emotional health. The project will continue to provide online activity classes for free to encourage families to stay active. These classes have been very well received by children and parents.”
According to the survey findings, which interviewed over 800 parents of primary school students, nearly two-thirds (63%) of parents found their children had gained weight amid school closures due to the pandemic. Among them, 11% said their children had put on 3kg or more, while 28% said their children had consumed larger portions of food, showing a statistically significant correlation between meal portion size and children’s body weight.
About 61% of parents said that their children’s screen time had increased. Among them, 43% said the increase was 60 minutes or more per day. About 57% of parents found their children’s physical activity levels had decreased. Among them, 24% said the decrease was 60 minutes or more per day. While 10% of parents thought their children’s physical health had deteriorated, 28% of parents said their children’s mental/emotional well-being had worsened.
The survey was conducted online in February 2021 via the Fun to Move@JC mobile application. It asked parents to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on their children compared to the latter’s physical and mental wellbeing in October 2020.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Founded in 1884, The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a world-class racing club that acts continuously for the betterment of our society. The Club has a unique integrated business model, comprising racing and racecourse entertainment, a membership club, responsible sports wagering and lottery, and charities and community contribution. Through this model, the Club generates economic and social value for the community and supports the Government in combatting illegal gambling. In 2019/20, the Club contributed HK$19.9 billion in duty and profits tax and HK$0.8 billion to the Lotteries Fund. Approved charity donations were HK$4.5 billion. The Club is Hong Kong’s largest single taxpayer and one of the city’s major employers. Its Charities Trust is also one of the world’s top ten charity donors. The Club is always “riding high together for a better future” with the people of Hong Kong.
The Club’s Executive Director, Charities and Community, Leong Cheung said the Club is committed to promoting active sports participation. Through cross-sectoral collaboration and innovative ideas, it is supporting a range of sports initiatives for different age groups to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing.
The Club’s Executive Director, Charities and Community, Leong Cheung (2nd right), project leader of Fun to Move@JC and Associate Dean (Research) of CUHK’s Faculty of Education as well as Professor in the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, Professor Amy Ha (1st left), Yaumati Catholic Primary School (Hoi Wang Road)’s Principal Ms Chan Shuk Yee Polly (1st right), and a participating student (2nd left), at the press conference on COVID-19 pandemic impact on children’s health.