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June 10, 2015

Rec. PEI Supports 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card

Recreation PEI says Active Outdoor Play - with Risks – Good for Kids:
Recreation PEI Supports Findings in the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

Charlottetown, PE, June 10, 2015 – Recreation PEI supports the findings in the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, formerly the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card. Released today, the ParticipACTION Report Card has been issued in concert with an evidence-informed Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play, and takes a stand on outdoor and risky active play.

According to the ParticipACTION Report Card and Position Statement, over-supervising kids or keeping them indoors to ensure they are safe limits their opportunities for physical activity, endangering their long-term health. Despite research showing kids are more likely to be physically active when playing outdoors and less likely to engage in higher levels of physical activity if a supervising adult is present, safety concerns lead to excessive supervision and keeping kids indoors. While some outdoor activities are risky and could lead to injuries, the vast majority are minor, so it’s time to consider getting out of kids’ way to let them play.

“We have lost the balance between short-term safety and long-term health. In outdoor play, risk doesn’t mean courting danger, but rather giving kids the freedom to assess their surroundings and make decisions, allowing them to build confidence, develop skills, solve problems and learn limits,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, ParticipACTION Report Card, and Director of HALO-CHEO. “Kids move more when they are outside, have some freedom to roam unsupervised and engage fully with their environments, which will set them up to be more resilient and less likely to develop chronic diseases in the long run.”

The ParticipACTION Report Card findings support Recreation PEI initiatives to offer free and accessible go!PEI programs to encourage all Islanders to walk, run, bike and hike and enjoy the outdoors. Go!PLAY is an After School Program to encourage and support children and youth to increase their physical activity levels with an emphasis on being outdoors. These initiatives are managed by Recreation PEI and are funded through the Healthy Living Bilateral, a partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Province of PEI Department of Health and Wellness. The association offers free playground inspections for smaller municipalities, to reduce hazards and encourage the use of playgrounds for risky play and healthy child development. Andrew Avery, President of Recreation PEI, sees long-term potential to campaigning an approach for kids to explore outdoor opportunities for physical activity. "The findings and recommendations in this report is long overdue. The time is now for us to step back and let kids take the chances we did at their age." Avery also points out that while the report card looks bleak in some categories, opportunities present for Islanders to increase their level of physical activity is on pace, and in some areas, ahead of the game in meeting these challenges head on. "You look at the growth of the go!PEI program in its first 5 years of operation. Thousands of Islanders from across the province are heathier and more active. We still have a long way to go, but we are on the right path." says Avery.

Two of the lowest grades in the Report Card this year are a D- for Sedentary Behaviours and a D- for Overall Physical Activity. It finds that child and youth physical activity levels remain alarmingly low, with only nine per cent of five to 17 year-olds meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity.

“In order to help ensure Canadian children get enough heart-pumping activity, we need to recognize that they are competent and capable to go out and explore on their own or with friends,” says Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. “This will also allow them to have more fun and learn how to manage and assess risks independently. Children move more, sit less and play longer in self-directed outdoor play, so the biggest risk is keeping our kids supervised indoors.”
Among the 11 grades assigned in the Report Card and in addition to the above, other grades include:

  • “D” for Active Transportation
  • “C+” for School
  • “C+” for Families and Peers
  • “B-“ for Organized Sport & Physical Activity Participation
  • “B-“ for Government
  • “B+” for Community & Environment
  • “A-“ for Non-Government

To download the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card Highlight Report, including the Position Statement, or the 58-page Full Report, please visit www.participactionreportcard.com.

The evidence-informed Position Statement was developed and is supported by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (HALO-CHEO), ParticipACTION and a group of 12 other organizations, and was reviewed and edited by over 1,600 stakeholders from across Canada and around the world. It includes recommendations to help increase all children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors.

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