‘Visions’ for children’s health and wellbeing: exploring the complex and arbitrary processes of putting theory into practice

Wellard, I. and Secker, M. (2017) ‘Visions’ for children’s health and wellbeing: exploring the complex and arbitrary processes of putting theory into practice. Sport, Education and Society, 22 (5). ISSN 1357-3322.


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It could be claimed that the priority of any Government should be to look after the interests of the public it serves. Much of this role includes attempting to actively develop and implement policies and programmes that best contribute to or enhance general standards of living. Within the context of sport and physical activity for children the messages tend to be about the positive effects of increased exercise and are generally motivated by concerns about patterns of physical health and the prevention of disease in later life. While these are also considered important by parents and teachers, they are not necessarily their prime concerns. Consequently, there is a much more complicated process where adults construct visions of what childhood health and physical activity 'should look like'. Debates about the effectiveness of putting such ‘visions’ into practice invariably focus upon subjective/objective interpretations of wellbeing or the mechanisms for measuring impact of the intervention. To further add to the confusion, academics from the social sciences contribute to the debate by offering more critical explanations, often through theories that attempt to reveal the arbitrariness and unpredictability of measuring the impact of such ethereal constructs.

For the purposes of this paper, we apply a Foucauldian reading of our recent experiences conducting research for Government agencies introducing national physical literacy programmes in England and Wales. In doing so, we highlight the more sophisticated relationships of power operating in the formulation of an intervention as well as our attempts to understand the will to truth operating in relation to children’s ‘wellbeing’.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0511 Affection. Feeling. Emotion > BF0515 Well-being
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Human and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Ian Wellard
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2015 11:21
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2018 08:00
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/13988

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00