European School Sport Day 2020 found creative ways to keep children active

Schools and school sport around the world were affected by closures and restrictions throughout 2020, but this only accentuated the importance of finding creative ways to keep children active for their physical and mental wellbeing. The 6th European School Sport Day® (ESSD 2020), on 25 September, invited schools to show how they were adapting or re-starting their activities by planning in-person or digital events for the day.

The schools’ motivation to celebrate the day was remarkable, and resulted in almost 2 million children taking part at 8974 schools in 38 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Over 1000 schools participated in Denmark (1600), Germany (1273) and Hungary (1353) respectively.

European School Sport Day® is coordinated by the Hungarian School Sport Federation (HSSF) in cooperation with the founding partners, ISCA, the European Physical Education Association, Youth Sport Trust International (YSTI), BG Be Active and V4Sport, and National Coordinators from around Europe. It is an official flagship event of the European Week of Sport and co-funded by Erasmus+ Sport Not-for-Profit Events.

The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) also came on board to amplify the messaging to get more children on the move and collected donations from its sports brand members, including Puma, Adidas and Nike.

Mental health in the spotlight

Growing evidence of mental health struggles among school children prompted the decision to make mental health the ESSD 2020 focus topic well before the year unfolded. HSSF and ISCA worked together with child psychologist Csilla Kaposvari to develop a Mental Health Toolkit to inspire schools to try wellbeing-focused exercises that children can do outside, at a distance (if needed), with their peers or from home as an alternative to traditional team sports.

We also featured mental health in a special training webinar led by Kaposvari and YSTI’s Managing Director Helen Vost and Head of Research Amanda Vernalls.

ESSD 2021: From school space to MOVEment space

European School Sport Day’s focus theme for 2021 will build on ISCA’s MOVEment Spaces and Open Streets Day concepts of using outdoor urban spaces, such as squares, parks and streets, for physical activity. With fewer restrictions and safer conditions for outdoor PE, Open Streets Day was also a popular feature of ESSD 2020 in Hungary.

Participating countries in 2020: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.