Swim England

A nation swimming

‘We must not forget the immeasurable impact pandemic has had on youngsters’

Swim England chief executive and Samaritans volunteer Jane Nickerson explains in Children’s Mental Health Week why youngsters must not become the forgotten victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a few weeks, it will be 12 months since our lives were drastically changed.

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first national lockdown on 23 March last year, few would have envisaged we would still be under the toughest restrictions now.

It means by the time we reach the first anniversary, a child turning 10 will have spent one-tenth of their lives under some sort of restrictions.

That’s a startling statistic and one that should not be ignored.

The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating effect on everyone in the country and while the majority of youngsters are not struck down with severe illness, the pandemic has still had an immeasurable impact on them.

Children and young people are victims of the virus. They have been denied the opportunity to go to school, to play with their friends, to enjoy the sports that they love.

We have been championing for years how aquatic activity gives the mental health of all ages a huge boost.

Our youngsters need that right now.

Our determined fight to get pools reopened at the earliest available opportunity is driven by all of our members – whether they are just starting out at their first aquatics club or are a veteran Masters swimmer.

We want to hear the delight of youngsters splashing about in the water as they learn a vital life skill, watching athletes develop their skills, seeing the joy on faces at competitions.

Fighting on your behalf

Those days will soon come and it’s important to remember that.

Adam Peaty has said that the younger generation are not falling behind as they’ve not had as much access to the water.

He said: “I think kids have got to remember they’re still kids, they can still have fun…”

Adam is spot on. Life will seem unfair and harsh at the minute but there are still opportunities to stay fit, enjoy yourselves and keep smiling.

It might not be in the pool but we’ll keep fighting on your behalf to ensure that happens sooner rather than later.

I read an interesting quote the other day which said: “Pandemics are like storms … they all have beginnings, middles and ends. Here comes the end…”

With the vaccination programme in full flow now, we all have to believe that’s the case and stay strong, support one another during these seemingly dark days and check in with your friends and team mates.

A ‘hello, how are you doing’ goes a long way and will show that youngsters have not become the forgotten victims of this awful pandemic.

Where to go for advice and support

If you’re worried about a child or young person’s mental health, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for support and advice for free on 0808 800 5000 or look at the advice they have online.