MUGAs or multi-use games areas provide a structured space for a variety of team games in city centres, parks, housing estates, schools and sports clubs. They provide an environment where a variety of team games such as; football, rugby, tennis, basketball and cricket. Children and teenagers can meet up to play either organised games, with a coach, or arrange matches themselves. MUGAs are suitable for children of all ages. They will hopefully develop good exercise habits ensuring that they maintain a healthy weight in the future.
In the past children’s health has suffered due to malnutrition and not resting enough. This resulted in underweight children with deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals. These days the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘ regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century’. (Source: Public Health England). The HSE (Health Survey For England) found that 28.2% of children between the ages 2 – 15 were classed as obese in 2015. Although being overweight adversely affects children’s self-esteem more than their health, it is the long-term effects of obesity as adults that concern the health care system the most. It is estimated that obesity costs the NHS £15.8 billion every year (PHE) so there are many good reasons to help children to eat well and take more exercise.
The primary cause of childhood obesity is too much food and not enough exercise. Children do not run around outside quashing their hunger with slices of bread like they did decades ago. Instead they sit mesmerised by a screen eating crisps and other refined foods, they very rarely go outside and often their foray into the big bad world involves supervision by an adult. Many green spaces have new housing estates on them and there is a general fear of predatory adults. Our protective instinct is effectively killing our children with kindness. As the curriculum becomes more academic with less emphasis on life skills, subjects like Home Economics become less important and each generation increasingly relies on ready meals and processed food. Children in areas of poverty are most likely to eat fattening foods that lack nutrition – this could be down to cost or lack of knowledge of healthy eating.
Activities that take place in MUGAs are predominately team sports which have both physical and psychological benefits. Let’s Play have outlined, ‘7 Benefits Of Team Sports’, which include; confidence building, consistent exercise, develops relationships, puts winning into perspective, teaches respect and encourages family involvement. MUGAs are also a safe environment where children can run around and organise themselves into teams. If there are teenage shelters situated near MUGAs then they are likely to become popular meeting places. With MUGAs all you need is a ball and some friends and you can burn away the extra pounds.
If you are interested in installing a MUGA in your park, school or leisure centre then contact us and we would be delighted to offer advice.
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