Wales is a modern outward facing country with a distinct history, culture and heritage that is different to any other country in the United Kingdom. Since devolution the Welsh Government has sought to demonstrate its autonomy and difference through distinct government policies that reflect its traditions and cultural heritage and to position Wales to meet the challenges of the next century.
- The world leading Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 underpins Wales’s confidence and determination to respond to these challenges as a nation. The Act focuses on improving the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of Wales and has identified seven well-being goals including building A Healthier Wales, A Wales of Cohesive Communities, and A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language all of which contextualise and inform this research. A key concern in achieving its ambitions for the Future Generations Act is equal recognition for the Welsh language as legally equivalent to the English language.
- Within this context modern Wales is a bilingual country in which Welsh and English are the spoken languages. Welsh is spoken in every region of Wales, as is English. There are no communities in Wales where only one language is spoken. Welsh is spoken alongside English in exactly the same way that English is spoken alongside Welsh. In addition, many people born in Wales, who identify as Welsh speak only a small amount of Welsh, and they identify themselves as Welsh learners or are more comfortable in the English language.
- According to the 2021 census English is the most widely spoken and understood language and Welsh a minority language with 14.6% of the population aged 3 years or older able to speak, read and write Welsh Welsh language in Wales, 2021) In 2017 the Wales Government launched its Cymraeg 2050 campaign to have 1 million Welsh speakers by the middle of the century.
- Like most countries in the affluent western world Wales is facing a health obesity crisis in its population with the World Health Organisation warning of the tripling of obesity numbers worldwide and increases in overweight adults. Equally important are NHS statements that obesity is preventable Obesity and overweight (who.int). NHS Wales reports figures of around 25% or 1 in 4 of adults aged 16 and over, and around 12% of children in the reception year of school (aged 4 to 5 years old) are living with obesity NHS 111 Wales - Health A-Z : Obesity.
- The opening statement of the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines (2019) comments, "If physical activity were a drug, we would refer to it as a miracle cure, due to the great many illnesses it can prevent and help treat.” The report goes on to recommend the minimum levels of physical activity that different age groups in the population should be doing. ‘Each week adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate intensity activity (such as brisk walking or cycling); or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running)…or a combination of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity. Older adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity and children and young people should engage in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity for an average of at least 60 minutes per day across the week. This can include all forms of activity such as physical education, active travel, after-school activities, play and sports’ UK Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines (publishing.service.gov.uk).
- Beyond the immediate health benefits of physical activity the UK Medical Officers’ Report also recognises the broader social and mental health benefits of being active. ‘It brings people together to enjoy shared activities and contributes to building strong communities whilst supporting the economy to grow’ UK Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines .