With two primary school age children at home, fitness trainer Melinda Sands has seen first hand what children have missed out on during long periods of remote schooling.
Online lessons can cover only part of what is usually on the calendar of a school day, and missing out on extras like PE means missing out on developing many other important skills.
With students from grade three to year 10 still learning from home, Ms Sands has started twice-daily sessions of fitness, games and fun at Victoria Park to get children outside, build their motor skills, move their bodies and connect with other kids to help their mental health through these uncertain times.
Ms Sands runs Own Your Game Fitness at Lucas but because it is classed as a gym it cannot open under the current COVID restrictions, however the regulations do allow for personal training outdoors with groups of up to 10 people so she decided to start the park classes.
"Rather than worrying about what we can't do we wanted to turn our focus to what we can to do help the community and assist young people in getting back to human contact with other kids, and take some pressure off families as well," she said.
"Our aim is to get them away from their devices - children migrate to technology at the best of times and now they're doing their learning via technology as well so we want to get them out there not just for structured activity with us but to teach them things to do on their own at home."
Ms Sands said missing out on PE classes at school meant many children could fall behind in motor development and skills such as coordination, ball handling, and team building.
They have also missed out on important opportunities for social development with community sport, dance classes and other extra-curricular activities cancelled or interrupted during the various lockdowns.
"Childhood is such an important time for them socially. I look back at photos of my children from when the pandemic started and am blown away by how much they have grown in that time."
IN OTHER NEWS
The classes will run at 1.30pm and 4pm daily this week at Victoria Park opposite the main playground, and if there is enough demand they are likely to continue through the school holidays or until all year levels return to face-to-face classes.
Classes cost $10. Bookings can be made at www.facebook.com/ownyourgameau
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