Parents encourage their children to take advantage of Free Swimming for 16's and UnderAs new figures from the Sports Council for Wales show that levels of activity among primary school children in Wales are on the increase, so too is the importance of parent power.

The Sports Council for Wales Children’s Participation Survey 2006 reports that the number of primary school children regularly taking part in physical activity and sport has increased by 3% points in the last two years.

44% of children aged seven to eleven years in Wales now take part in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity, five days a week compared to 41% in 2004, suggesting that real progress is being made to achieve the targets set out in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Climbing Higher strategy.

It aims to see all primary school children and 90% of secondary school children participating in at least 60 minutes of physical activity five times a week – a target to be achieved over the next 20 years.

The survey demonstrates that there is a significant relationship between parental involvement in sport and the activity levels of their children. 54% of those children who reported that both of their parents played sport met the 5x60 target compared with just 39% of children who recorded that neither of their parents played sport.

Such figures reinforce the widely held view that parents have a huge influence on their children’s health, and an important role in shaping children’s physical activity attitudes and behaviours.

The lottery funded Dragon Sport scheme – Wales’ biggest campaign to get primary school children hooked on out-of-school-hours sport – is helping draw more children into sport and increase activity levels, with 92% of primary schools in Wales now actively involved in the scheme and further opportunities offered by around 800 clubs outside of school.

One of the main aims of Dragon Sport is to recruit and train volunteer sports organisers, leaders and coaches – especially the real experts on children....parents and teachers.

Reports suggest that the lifestyles of today’s parents - which have created a booming market for unhealthy convenience foods - are partly responsible for the increase in medical accounts of obesity epidemic.