Active Healthy Kids Report Card
Did you know that kids spend 63% of after school and weekend time in sedentary activities? Active Healthy Kids Canada has released its 2012 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Active Healthy Kids strives to be the trusted and ‘go-to’ source for knowledge and information around physical activity, as well as a motivator for encouraging stakeholders and policy makers to get kids moving. The report card contains a wealth of information relevant to anyone working and advocating for children, youth, families and community amenities.
The report card measures activity levels (organized sport, active play and leisure and active transportation), sedentary behaviours (screen time), influences (school & childcare settings, family & peers, and community), individual characteristics (ethnicity, ability, socioeconomic status) and outcomes (mental health, academic performance, fun) in order to provide a full picture of what is influencing and perhaps detracting from the physical activity of Canadian children and youth.
Furthermore, 93% of parents report local availability of public facilities and programs for physical activity. Parents from the highest income households report more access to facilities than lowest-income households.
The report recommends “pressing play” as a means to increase the physical activity levels of Canadian kids. While play has been shown to increase motor function, creativity, and social skills, its prevalence in the lives of kids has been consistently decreasing over the past 50 or 60 years. Interestingly enough, children don’t even want increased screen time. Despite spending an average of 7 hours and 48 minutes in front of screens per day (grades 6-12), 92% of Canadian kids said they would choose playing with friends over watching television.
How to Press Play
- In the Early Years: Provide access to safe, open areas, either inside or outside, where kids can move freely.
- School Aged Children: Access to fields, nature, and sports equipment. Take turns supervising kids during these activities to counter safety concerns.
- Youth: Allow youth to have free time without assuming they are “up to no good” and increase youth-friendly spaces for them to do this in.
- In General: Consider reducing the number of scheduled activities, increase neighbourhood safety, and reduce screen time.