Keeping Children Safe this Spring During Sports

As the weather starts to get warmer and the evenings lighter, spring is a great time to get your kids outdoors and introduce them to new sports. For parents of children with hayfever, allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions however, spring time brings fresh challenges.

Active Kids are Healthy Kids

The health benefits of exercise for children and adults alike are well documented.

Sharon Bassett, Director and coach at A-Star Sports and Sports Xtra, a nationwide children’s sports club had this to say:

Sharon Bassett, A-Star Sports coach

Sharon Bassett, A-Star Sports coach

“Taking part in sport and physical activity brings many benefits. Physical fitness can support children’s growth and development, improve concentration levels, self-esteem and confidence.  It’s a positive thing to do with family and friends, to develop social skills and a strong support network.

“It’s also a fun way to learn how to deal with challenges in a supportive environment and develop skills that are transferable to many other situations in life.”

Safety Procedures at Sports Clubs

Allergies and asthma are the most commonly found health conditions in children, with Asthma UK research showing that asthma affects one in five households.

To maintain safe environments, many children’s sports clubs have safety procedures to deal with health conditions.

“Recently, 8-12% of children who attended have had a recorded health condition. We ask parents to fill out registration forms that ask for clear details on health conditions. Once we are alerted to a health condition, we speak directly to the family to make sure we have a full understanding of the condition and any protocols they have in place for dealing with it.

“Procedures such as clear records, safely stored, labelled and easily accessible medications (where appropriate i.e. prescribed medications for particular children), first aid trained staff, good relationships with the children so communication is clear and well planned activities all help to keep the children safe.”

Safe but not Singled Out

Louise Nicholson founded The Little Superstars Sports Club to introduce children to a much wider variety of sports than is generally offered in most schools and clubs.

Louise Nicholson, founder of Little Superstars Sports Club

Louise Nicholson, founder of Little Superstars Sports Club

She felt that medical ID bands were a great way to identify children with medical conditions.

“I think ID bands are a great idea as you can check them quickly and the information is easily available. What medication or treatment they need and family contact details are right there. If something happens it’s much faster than going back to the office to check their medical forms plus the bands don’t make the children feel self-conscious or singled out because of their condition.

“Lots of children nowadays are very informed about their conditions. They know the symptoms of attacks, what food or situations to avoid, when to take their medication and to go straight to a coach if something happens.

“They all just get stuck in, which is great as they aren’t self-consciously worrying about their conditions and can just enjoy themselves.”

Sharon agreed that children with health conditions should still be able to fully participate in sporting activities.

“All sports can be made accessible to children. Experienced coaches who have a full knowledge of children’s conditions can build on adapted games.

“Should there be a need to accommodate children with adapted activities, shorter sessions and longer recovery times, then this should be part of the offering from the coach and detailed in their planning. All children should be participating in sports adapted for their age group and developmental stage.”

Children at an A-Star Sports camp

Children at an A-Star Sports camp

Avoiding Allergen Foods

Both A-Star Sports and The Little Superstars Sports Club ask that children bring their own packed lunches to clubs and camps.

Sharon comments, “Children are generally asked to bring their own packed lunch but fresh fruit is often made available at snack times.

“A daily allergy check is carried out to ensure that the fruit available is suitable for everyone.  Coaches are regularly notified of all health conditions of the children in attendance, so that interactions at lunch times can also be monitored.”

Little Superstars Sports Club offers sports parties for children and can provide basic catering.

Louise comments, “We occasionally get requests for food to be gluten free, dairy free, egg free etc. We find shopping for these difficult as food labelling can be vague and unhelpful.  Often, basic food item labels state ‘may contain traces of…’, when realistically they don’t but we’d rather not take the risk. If this happens we generally suggest the parents provide their own food just to be safe.”

Weather Conditions

Changing weather conditions can have a big effect on children with allergies.

At Little Superstars Sports Club, Louise tells us they manage seasonal changes with multiple sports pitches.

Coach and child playing at a Little Superstars sports camp

Coach and child playing at a Little Superstars sports camp

“We have indoor and outdoor areas to play in. The outdoor areas are astroturf or grass so if we have children with hayfever or grass allergies, we make sure they can avoid the areas that would affect them.”

“The children are also only outside for limited slots of time, then they come inside. They eat inside to avoid insects being attracted to food and thus minimise chances of getting insect bites and stings which can cause reactions.”

All children should be able to enjoy the spring weather and Sharon offered us some final advice on how to cope during seasonal changes.

“Keep a record of how the change in weather conditions seems to affect you and share this. With this knowledge, family members, friends and coaches can provide great support.  Even the smallest of tweaks to a planned outing or sports session can make a big difference.”