7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity
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Among other things, the operational objectives of the National Health Programme for 2021-2025 include "prevention of overweight and obesity”. The minister dealing with health matters is the body responsible for the implementation of the Programme, in cooperation with ministers responsible for education and upbringing, physical culture, internal affairs, public finance, national defence, as well as for the Ministry of Justice. The Programme describes numerous tasks and some of them deal with the importance of physical activity and correct nutrition. These tasks include: leading the national nutritional education center, promoting physical activity among children through supporting extracurricular forms of activity, promoting correct nutrition and physical activity among uniformed services, courses in correct nutrition and physical activity for professional groups engaged in the fight against overweight and obesity (employers, food industry, health managers, health professionals, teachers, healthcare workers, and National Sanitary Inspectorate workers).
The 2015-2016 Youth Participation Governmental Programme (Rządowy Program Aktywności Społecznej Młodzieży na lata 2015-2016) functioned between years 2015 and 2016. Currently, data is available only on sport activities organised as part of the National System of Youth Sport (System Sportu Młodzieżowego) is available. The System was, however, intended only for "young sporting talents" It also identified competitors with high sporting potential who would undergo further training in the sporting establishments and national teams of Polish sporting associations in order to represent Poland in international sporting competitions in all age groups, especially in Olympic sports". In 2022, a new programme Sport Talents (Sportowe Talenty) was started. It is being enacted under the auspices of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science. The goal of the programme is to “discover the biggest sport talents among students in Polish schools. The foundation of the programme is the virtual platform SportoweTalenty.pl made available to teachers in order to monitor the results of fitness tests administered during PE lessons”. The programme is currently in its pilot stage, and is being implemented in two voivodeships (Opolskie and Lubelskie). It will be extended to the whole Poland in September 2023.
Another programme taking action on physical activity is entitled the Programme of Financing Tasks Relating to the Organisation and Conduct of Activities Supporting and Supervising Youth Sport financed by Fund of Physical Culture Development. (Program dofinansowania zadań związanych z organizowaniem i prowadzeniem działalności wspierającej i kontrolnej sportu młodzieżowego ze środków Funduszu Rozwoju Kultury Fizycznej). In last few years, it was financed by the Physical Culture Development Fund, implemented by external entities and monitored by the Minister of Sport and Tourism. It mainly emphasised the training of young sporting talents and sports competition and was financed by the Physical Culture Development Fund, remaining at the disposal of the Minister of Sports and Tourism. There is also a programme entitled All Children’s Sports (Sport wszystkich dzieci) launched by the Ministry of Sports and "emphasising the dissemination of physical activity among children and young people, including the equalisation of their chances in accessing structured physical activity", and - in the long run - "the promotion of healthy and active lifestyle and changing social attitudes to physical activity". Under the Sport Classes For Students Fund (Fundusz Zajęć Sportowych dla Uczniów), a programme for teaching swimming to the general population named “I Know How To Swim” is being funded (Program powszechnej nauki pływania „Umiem pływać”).
The universality of the programme entitled All Children’s Sports makes it worthwhile to have a closer look at the tasks that are financed as part thereof: (1) Local Sports Animator mainly focusses on "supporting the development of children and young people by boosting their physical activity leading to improved fitness, motor skills, health and the quality of life, providing opportunities (by equalising chances of access regardless of parents’ financial situation) to the biggest possible group of children and young people to participate in organised, regular and attractive sport activities". Interestingly, the educational and preventive role of sports is emphasised here, as the Programme intends to "combat social pathologies, especially interpersonal violence and aggression, provide assistance to impoverished and socially excluded groups". The Programme involves the participation of local government units and economic communities, (2) "Supporting the organisation of sporting events for children and youth, promoting their physical activity and providing opportunities for participation in interdisciplinary sporting competitions" and, again, educational objectives such as "promoting fair play or reducing aggression and pathologies as well as removing inequalities in children’s and young people’s access to sport regardless of their parents’ financial situation". Unlike the programmes mentioned before, the activities of this Programme are also intended for "schoolchildren who are less gifted athletes". The third financed task under the project, that is "supporting projects implemented by Polish sports associations to promote children’s and young people’s physical activity", is also seen in a broad social context. Within the Physical Culture Development Fund, programmes directed towards schoolchildren (School Sports Club) and academic youth (Academic Sport) are being financed.
The remaining activities promoting physical activity in line with broader social objectives, including those relating to health, are contained in the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism (Ustawa o wychowaniu w trzeźwości i przeciwdziałaniu alkoholizmowi) which mentions the Fund for Sporting Activities for Schoolchildren and its objective - "financing schoolchildren’s sporting activities provided by sports clubs operating as associations and other non-governmental organisations whose statutory activities include the implementation of tasks relating to the promotion of physical culture among children and young people as well as financing activities organised by local government units and tasks described in public health regulations relating to physical activity". Grants for sporting activities for schoolchildren which are awarded by the Minister of Sport and Tourism as part of the task Sports for All (Sport dla wszystkich) provide for the promotion of schoolchildren’s sports in concrete fields, such as winter sports, swimming classes for everyone and activities involving elements of corrective gymnastics and compensation exercises.
The issue of physical education at schools is mainly defined in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education on Framework Teaching Plans for Public Schools (Rozporządzenie ministra edukacji narodowej w sprawie ramowych planów nauczania dla publicznych szkół) - Physical Education is a compulsory subject provided in primary schools in years 1-3 in an amount of three hours per week, in years 4-8 - four hours per week and in the case of general upper secondary schools, physical education involves three hours of classes per week throughout all four years of the programme and the same goes for technical upper secondary schools (their programmes go on for five years) and for industrial schools (three-year-long programmes). The percentage of pupils who do not take part in physical activity classes is high. This situation is mainly caused by monotonous character of these classes. Moreover, they are often an occasion for humiliating weaker students which influences the low participation rate even more.
Guidelines provided by the Ministry of National Education state that the "shaping of physical activity habits should be the objective of physical education classes at each stage of education. Therefore, physical education classes should develop school children’s interests and attitudes and assist in creating a positive image of themselves as participants in physical activity of a recreational, sporting or tourist nature. It is for this reason that the core curriculum states that physical education offered by schools should satisfy school children’s needs and interests as fully as possible while taking their capabilities into account".
Apart from the above diversified groups composed of entities implementing individual activities there are no uniform principles of cooperation and partnerships in the field of promoting physical culture and sport among young people. Most programmes generally focus on cooperation between local government units at different levels, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations and particularly - sports clubs.