An open letter to all children, schools and parents on Sports Day

What does sports day mean to you? Some say winning. Some say taking part – I say sharing the love.

Quite often it is easy to forget the true magic that it is to be a child. But for me, whenever I attend sports day to watch my daughter, it is glaringly obvious. I didn’t always see it but now I do, I want to share this with you.

To the child that never gives up: Good for you! When you put yourself forward for a task and it goes wrong, to keep going is an admirable trait. When that beanbag falls off your head, you put it back on and keep going. When you fall over, you get back up. When you drop the baton, you pick it up and keep running.

This isn’t called failing, this is called Determination and Perseverance.

To the child who got injured: Don’t be sad that you can’t carry on. Instead, look around you and listen. Can you hear the clapping? That’s for you. Because you did so well and you tried. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t finish, it matters that you started. And that clapping isn’t just from the parents and the teachers, that’s your friends and other students too. They’re proud of you as well.

This isn’t called failing, this is called Compassion and Camaraderie.

To the child who needs support: So what! You may have a disability, or struggle to understand what it is you are being asked to do. You might struggle with loud noises or use a wheelchair. But has it stopped you from taking part? No. And look by your side. There’s your LSA. Or another student. Or a parent helper. Do you know why they are running beside you? Because they care about you and they want you as part of their team. And can you hear the parents and children chanting your name? They are proud of you for taking part too. So you came last?

This isn’t failing, this is Courage and Encouragement.

To the child who is scared to take part because they believe they are rubbish: You are amazing. You may not feel confident running or jumping over hurdles and you might keep dropping the egg off the spoon but, do you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because the second you participate, you are learning how to do all of those things. It takes strength to do something that scares you and you just did it. Can you hear everyone chanting your team colour? That’s for you too. You might not come first, but you conquered your fears and that is ten times more powerful than any sticker telling you that you won.

This isn’t failing; this is called being Brave and having Pride.

To all the parents who cheer – not just for their own children but for every single child taking part: Your cheers of encouragement might seem trivial to you, but to the children it could mean the world. You could be encouraging a child who, up until now, had a tummy ache because they hate sports. You could be cheering a child who thought they were rubbish but who just came second!! You could be cheering a child who has no friends but now hears chants and clapping because they passed the finish line. Giving support to the whole school takes zero effort but means the whole world.

This is called Solidarity and Kindness

To all the teachers who give up their time to make Sports Day a success: Thank you for making sure everybody gets their time to shine and for showing the children just how proud you are of them. You are their teachers and they look to you for guidance and support, so thank you for endlessly giving it and for role modelling how we can all support and encourage each other.

This is called Commitment and Hard Work

And finally, to the children who cheer on their peers: thank you. Thank you for helping others who find it difficult. Thank you for building strength and praise for those participating. And thank you for understanding that everyone matters – regardless of where they finish.

This is called Respect

Today I went to my daughter’s sports day and – as I always am on these events – I felt full of emotion. I was so incredibly proud of each and every one of the children who took part. I felt warm inside when I heard the parents clapping and cheering those children who were still running once the winners had passed the line, and I felt grateful to all the teachers, parent helpers and children from another school who gave their time to make today special.

Some children came first, second or third, and what an achievement that was. But some children learnt to overcome fears, some learnt they had a skill they didn’t even know and some realised that actually, their friends really care for them.

So you can see, sports day isn’t about winning or where you rank, it’s about so much more. It’s sharing the love and building a community. .

This is called Love and I am so proud of you all. Well done.

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