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Lucy Murphy on how we’re helping kids stay mentally and physically fit this summer

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As schools across the UK begin to close their gates for summer, parents and carers will be looking forward to the holiday period.

The effects of the pandemic on adults have been well documented – the constant worry and concern for loved ones, the economic challenges and adapting to new ways of working, including home-schooling children. It’s been hard for us all, however the impact on our children’s mental health and wellbeing is equally concerning.

The national lockdowns stripped away all the routines in children’s lives: going to school, playing with their friends, not seeing extended family and restricted after school activities and hobbies. When children needed reassurance and answers about what was happening the adults around them couldn’t provide them. The consequence of this lack of day-to-day social interaction and ongoing uncertainty is becoming clear. Childline have reported a 16% increase in the number of mental health counselling sessions for children aged 11 and under. Save the Children found more than eight in 10 children reported an increase in negative feelings during the pandemic. Perhaps most worryingly, The Centre for Mental Health estimates an extra 1.5 million children and young people will require mental health support as a direct result of the pandemic over the next three to five years. These are long terms issues which, if ignored could cause real issues for a child’s development and hold them back in later life.

At Sky, we recognise the impact the pandemic has had on everyone in the family unit. We believe through the power of our platforms and content, we can make a difference to children across the UK and help them navigate these challenging times by better understanding their mental health and wellbeing and giving families the opportunity to start important conversations. This week we announced a brand-new line up of shows coming to Sky Kids across the summer, including new commissions Clam Brain starring Frankie Bridge, formerly of the Saturdays, which will give kids tips to calm their minds and get their bodies active, as well as a second season of nature and mindfulness series, Dreamflight: Calming Stories, which feature exceptional natural history stories narrated by stars including Dame Julie Walters and Russell Tovey, perfect for families to wind down with and share a moment of closeness. We will also be launching some Fitness videos for our younger audience with short active dance videos featuring one of our top shows Paw Patrol, which are being made exclusively for Sky by Nick Jr.

We’ve also worked with the Government’s Department for Education to develop a series of five films featuring their Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Dr Alex George. Sky Kids will run the films called What’s on Your Mind? throughout the summer on our kids’ news show FYI: For Your Info. Each segment will highlight the importance of physical and mental health for children. The series coincides with the Department for Education’s efforts to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing in schools across the UK, and is ahead of mental health being added to the national curriculum.

Sky connects millions of families to the entertainment, learning and factual shows they love. We’re proud to be able to use the power of Sky Q and Sky Kids as a platform to help support the nation’s children with their mental health and wellbeing, in a safe and easy way, in the comfort of their own homes.