Contributed by Cristina Albanese & Alyssa Hartvich (Teacher Candidates)
Participaction is a national non-profit organization that was established by the Canadian government to promote healthy living and physical activity. Established in 1971, Participaction works with partners such as recreation organizations, various sponsors and physical activity sports programs in order create more physically active Canadian citizens. This organization’s main objective is to establish “a Canada where physical activity is a part of everyday life”, and to help motivate Canadians to sit less and move more. Participaction has multiple government programs and events that are targeted around this overall goal.
As future educators, we strongly believe that this organization would be a great way to motivate students to become more involved in physical activity and events that are happening in their school and community. A program that we felt would be most beneficial to students across the country is entitled “Bring Back Play.” This program focuses on encouraging children to be less sedentary, and to be outdoors participating in active play. This program works hand in hand with “Make Room for Play”, an initiative also created by Participaction.
In our society, there are four main barriers that affect Canadians and prevent children from being active. Children today are much busier than they once were with extended amounts of schoolwork, and other scheduled activities outside of school. Children are also not able to be as independent as they once were. This is because of the growing number of safety concerns that cause parents and teachers to be more concerned and protective. Unfortunately, this fear negatively impacts children, as it does not allow them the opportunity for risk taking and free play. Another barrier revolves around lack of time due to increased parental work hours and home responsibilities. These tasks take away from free time that would normally allow for free play and outdoor family activities. The next barrier is harsh Canadian weather that has the tendency to keep children indoors, which ultimately results with increased screen time such as television, video games, and the internet. Screen time is a barrier that requires children to be sedentary which research has shown negatively impacts health and physical activity.
“Bring Back Play” provides various solutions and strategies to help conquer these multiple barriers. Some examples include:
- Participaction screen time log: http://www.participaction.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ParticipACTION-Screen-Time-Log-.pdf
- Five fun winter activities for families: http://blog.participaction.com/en/make-friends-with-winter/
- Tips to play injury free: http://www.participaction.com/get-moving/bring-back-play/barriers-safety/playground-safety/
Collectively, we believe that this specific program fits in the ‘Home, School and Community Partnerships’ section of the Foundations for a Healthy School. It is also a program that requires the help of the community, parents and the school environment to work together to help enhance the children’s well-being. In terms of the pillars of Comprehensive school health, this program works toward partnerships to help promote and utilize the program efficiently. There needs to be supportive relationships with schools, parents and the community in order to educate and promote these solutions to the children to benefit their well-being.
Play is critical in a child’s life as it allows them to try new things, use their imagination, as well as provide numerous health benefits that will carry through their entire lives. Active play also allows for cognitive, emotional and social development. As educators, it is our responsibility to incorporate play-based learning into our curriculum and lesson plans. By doing so, we can promote the importance of play and physical activity in everyday life. We strongly feel that this program would be an ideal way to combat the barriers of play in their lives. Teachers would be able to utilize this program to help create a healthy school environment where students are encouraged to be active and are offered many different opportunities for play and physical activity.