Keeping children safe this Spring during sports

A-Star Sports and Sports Xtra coaches have a wide knowledge of supporting children tackling allergies and respiratory issues every day, especially during seasonal changes.  Most recently, experienced coach and company director, Sharon Bassett, contributed to a blog article on these issues for The ID Band Company.

You can read the article for The ID Band Company here: ‘Keeping children safe this Spring during sports’

As with all blog articles, there’s a lot more that goes into the research behind the scenes, so here you can read the full interview:

Dealing with children’s health conditions and allergies

Do you get many children with health conditions at your clubs and camps?
Most recently, 8-12% of the children attending have had a recorded health condition.

What is your procedure for dealing with their health conditions?
We ask parents to fill out registration forms for us that ask for clear details on health conditions. Once we are alerted to these then we speak directly to the family to make sure that we have a full understanding of the condition and any protocols they have in place for dealing with it. If a child is at a club where their parent or guardian doesn’t need to be present, we also ask for additional written consent to deal with any prescribed medication. Where a condition requires a parent to be there at all times, then we make sure that this is possible. All coaches have paediatric first aid training.

Are meals provided on your holiday clubs?
Children are generally asked to bring their own packed lunch but fresh fruit is often made available at snack times.

If so how do you cater for children with food allergies?
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.

Introducing sports and physical activity

Would you recommend that children play sports?
Yes, it is part of our vision to make sport and physical activity fun and accessible for every child.

What are the health benefits?
Taking part in sport and physical activity brings many benefits from the physical fitness that can support children’s growth and development, through to living a healthy lifestyle into adulthood, improving concentration levels, self-esteem and confidence. It’s also an extremely positive thing to do with family and friends, developing social skills and a strong support network.

Are there other psychological benefits of playing sports?
As mentioned above, sport and physical activity are beneficial for self-esteem and confidence as well as social skills and learning to work with others. It’s also a fun way to learn how to deal with challenges in a supportive environment and developing lots of skills that are transferable to many other situations in life.

What sports would you recommend for a child that hasn’t participated much before?
I would actually recommend trying as many sports as possible! Sport isn’t just what we see on popular television channels like football and even rugby, it’s dodgeball, volleyball, handball, basketball, ultimate frisbee and many more. Being a multi-sports coach, I see many children new to sport come along and really experience a journey of discovery and develop a genuine and sustainable interest in a sport that captures their imagination.

Are some sports classes you run seasonal? If so, which classes are now available?
As a network across the UK, we run regular weekly multi-sports classes, after school clubs, holiday clubs and parties. The offering in each of the 40+ franchise territories varies but is a mixture of multi-sports and physical activity ‘Xperiences’.

Health conditions

In your experience are some sports better suited for children with asthma/respiratory conditions than others?
With experienced coaches who can build on adapted games with a full knowledge of children’s conditions, all sports can be made accessible to children. The emphasis here is on adapted games. I would also stress that by ‘sports’ I mean land sports – I couldn’t comment on water sports!

Can children with respiratory conditions still participate fully in sports?
I would say yes as long as:
– they have the full consent of their GP and parent/guardian;
– their parent/guardian has communicated and prepared for their needs with the coach;
– they are participating in sports/activities adapted for their age group/developmental stage;
…and, should there be a need to accommodate children with adapted activities, shorter sessions and/or longer recovery times, then this should be part of the offering from the coach and detailed in their planning.

What safety precautions do you have in place for when they are participating?
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.  And parents on hand in particular cases where children need specialist support outside of our training.

Do you recommend/know of any breathing techniques for asthmatics?

I don’t recommend any in particular as each child has their own preferences and this is discussed with their parent/guardian. However, alongside this we always make sure to remain calm, speak positively, remove any stresses, provide reassurance and make sure that every child knows that we know exactly how to take care of them.

Changing weather conditions

Have you found that changing weather conditions can affect children with asthma/allergies?
This is certainly something that has been reported to us by parents and that we have seen as coaches. This has occasionally resulted in limited time outdoors, for example, particularly in relation to grass or pollen allergies, the potential for very severe reactions to insect bites/stings and sometimes related to damp conditions.

Do you have any safety precautions to combat this?
Yes – again, this is to do with planning alternatives (in some cases indoor instead of outdoor activities), having a full knowledge of a child’s medical history and any necessary medications to hand where applicable.

Do many of your summer club activities take place outdoors?
Some of our multi-sports sessions and particular sport-related ‘Xperiences’ are held outdoors (e.g. a playing field, astroturf etc) as well as physical activity ‘Xperiences’ such as ‘Adventure’, which can involve shelter building and tracking outdoors.

If so, how do children with hayfever, allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions deal with this?
As described above – parents dropping their children off will provide any updates on a child’s current condition, advise on the best support for the child and sign across labelled prescribed medications and the permissions for these to be used as appropriate. Children will often talk to us about how they’re feeling and this open communication is used to make sure children are well or to take action if they start showing or reporting symptoms.

Do you have any advice for sufferers on how to cope during changing weather conditions?
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.

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