Following a daily movement programme can improve children’s physical development levels and has the potential to boost their chances in the classroom, researchers from Loughborough University have found. Academics from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences have been working with two schools and more than 40 Foundation Stage children in a year-long study. They found that those who took part in a daily movement programme for one academic year showed greater improvements in throwing/catching, balance and manual dexterity compared to those not taking part in the programme. The participating children also improved their overall levels of physical development from the 32nd percentile to the 50th (an improvement of approximately 18 percentile points) bringing them back in line with scores for children of the same age established in 2007. A child’s physical development level impacts their ability to complete simple tasks such as sitting still, holding a pencil, putting on their shoes, and reading – all skills essential for school. Tests carried out by the team in 2016 found a larger number than previously estimated were starting school with lower than desirable levels of physical development, with almost 30% of children presenting with symptoms typically associated with dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia), and ADHD.
Coastal communities are struggling with the complex social and ecological impacts of a growing global hunger for a seafood delicacy, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia. "Soaring demand has spurred sea cucumber booms across the globe," says lead author Maery Kaplan-Hallam, who conducted the research as a master’s student with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC. "For many coastal communities, sea cucumber isn’t something that was harvested in the past. Fisheries emerged rapidly. Money, buyers and fishers from outside the community flooded in. This has also increased pressure on other already overfished resources." Sea cucumber can sell for hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dollars a pound. The “gold rush” style impacts of high-value fisheries exacerbate longer-term trends in already vulnerable communities, such as declines in traditional fish stocks, population increases, climate change and illegal fishing. "These boom-and-bust cycles occur across a range of resource industries," says co-author Nathan Bennett, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC. “What makes these fisheries so tricky is that they appear rapidly and often deplete local resources just as rapidly, leaving communities with little time to recover."