Help our Kids Cross the Finish Line with Finesse

In today’s digital world, far too many children are affected by psychosocial and health problems that adversely affect their learning and behaviour in school and day to day life. The alarming episodes of depression, reclusiveness, panic attacks, anxiety and lashing out among school children, require our urgent and expanded intervention.

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In today’s digital world, far too many children are affected by psychosocial and health problems that adversely affect their learning and behaviour in school and day to day life. The alarming episodes of depression, reclusiveness, panic attacks, anxiety and lashing out among school children, require our urgent and expanded intervention.

Many of the past contributors on this forum, have put forward strong statistics and theories on our perilous system and presented countermeasures – the time to implement these countermeasures, is now. The first step on the path to leading the change, is to acknowledge and accept the issue. Mental health/mental fatigue are no more prevalent here, than elsewhere in the world. We as parents and educators need to be held accountable, for our inability to identify the classic signs and symptoms. Our children bear this burden – their inability to clearly communicate their fears, leads to their poor performance at school and social settings. These problems only intensify, as children further internalize the self-destructive effects.

“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” -Plato

Wise words, but let us not put the pressure on our kids to be perfect. Let us instead empower them to be fundamentally happy, healthy and strong children both morally and physically. Schools are secondary domains for our kids to thrive in. They are environments for our children to socialize, develop and grow. An emphasis on physical health education has existed for years, and continues to grow as a part of our school curriculum. I will take this opportunity however, to elaborate more on promoting physical competencies through sports in schools – this has known to help enhance resilience to high-risk behaviours and psychological problems in our children and youth.

Sports are not just for professional athletes and social media influencers

Children who participate in physical activities such as sports, for at least one hour daily, experience positive mental and physical health benefits. Physical activity is known to trigger the release of endorphins in the brain, chemicals that boost mood and help relieve and prevent depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, the University of Florida reports that kids who participate in sports are less likely to develop depression, than kids who do not.

Exercise is also known to alleviate anxiety and boost self-esteem. Improved levels of selfesteem and self-confidence immensely aid in improving mood, attention and mental health. Participating in sports provides opportunities for children to develop friendships, to learn to lose and win gracefully, to practice taking turns, to set goals, to follow rules and manage time, to take on leadership roles when required, to play as a team, to practice conflict management and resolution. Physical activity through sports are known for all the above and garner an enriching learning experience that extends beyond what can be taught in the classroom or at home.

“Good health supports successful learning. Successful learners support health. Education and health are inseparable.” (World Health Organization)

The educational and mental benefits of sports are holistic
  • Physical activity has been proven to be the best outlet to release stress and negative energy and boost metabolism.
  • Organized sports help develop cognitive and agility skills through physical exercise. Just like performing and visual arts, sports can also boast of the development of a child’s brain and dexterity through interaction and participation.
  • A correlation has been found between physical activity (especially through sports) and a noticeable improvement in a child’s listening and learning skills in the classroom. Children develop laser focus concentration skills through the structured regime of sports culture.
  • Teamwork is by far the strongest skillset our kids can develop through sports – they learn to work as a team for one common greater goal…to win.
  • Sports teach our youth to make mature decisions by taking onus and accountability. The lessons they learn as a team on the playground, is what they carry with them as strong individuals out in the world and for life.
  • Increased levels of confidence and self-worth/ self-esteem. Interacting with a team means being able to see each other’s strengths and to develop a sense of understanding and empathy to weaknesses. Team mates help build each other up – they help work on their weaknesses and hone their strengths.
  • Confidence to stand up to bullying. Sports are the best open platform to teach children how to be inclusive, patient, tolerant and understanding. Kids learn to be assertive, to adjust, to recognize right from wrong, to voice their opinion and to stand up to injustice, especially when they have the collective guidance and support of their team members.
  • From a social standpoint, sports are a powerful tool that brings people together and creates a sense of community. They develop connections that bond together people from all walks of life both adults and children,extending the circle of support and network.

As educators and parents we need to leave a lasting legacy for our children. Setting a clear mandate to UNBURDEN our kids from the pressures of society and daily life. We need to nurture their childhood and help them to enjoy both school and play.

As a sportsman and educator, I welcome the opportunity to work side by side with teachers, to eradicate the stigma attached to mental health. Encouraging more physical activity through sports and exercise is a great place to start. The inherent qualities and skills they develop through team sports, sticks with them for life.

Lastly, we need to help our children learn to “de-digitalize” in this fast paced modern world. They need to be encouraged to put away all electronic devices and get out on the playing field and participate in the action and not just live in the shadows of what they see on the internet and TV. Not all games have to be about competition – but rather to enjoy.

Physical activity through sports are known for all the above and garner an enriching learning experience that extends beyond what can be taught in the classroom or at home.

As a founding member of Sportz Village Academies (formerly KOOH Sports), Puneet Mehra’s entrepreneurial stint early on in his career, equipped him with knowledge about startups and gave him an intrinsic understanding of various business models.

In his role as COO of Sportz Village Academies; designing a winning strategy and overseeing the execution and implementation of mandates, is Puneet’s top priority. His strength is in delivering the highest ROI, banking on the combined efforts of a robust team and across each platform. Puneet’s operating strategy has actively contributed to the overall growth and revenue of the business, leading the organization to its goal, while setting the standards for continuous growth through innovation in sports. As a strategically focused executive, he elicits top performance through relationships, mentoring, recognition and training. As a professional cricketer, Puneet has represented teams in various divisions and continues to devote time to the sport.