Shifting the Tides on Outdoor Play aims to improve health outcomes for youth
Halifax, NS – Researchers, community partners, and health promotion experts gathered at the Mount on Thursday for a one-day symposium aimed at encouraging more children and families to become physically active.
Shifting the Tides on Outdoor Play was organized by Dr. Beverlie Dietze, an Assistant Professor in the Mount’s Child and Youth Study program. Dr. Dietze, whose own research investigates the importance of outdoor play, felt the event was a needed platform to discuss the obstacles and challenges of increasing physical participation, and an important forum to discuss collaborative solutions.
Photo (L-R): Beverlie Dietze, Farrida Gabbani, Kelly Murumets, Kevin McNamara, Ramona Lumpkin.
“The consequences of a significant reduction in outdoor play time poses significant challenges to Canadian children in establishing healthy lifestyles and in developing to their full potential. Our goal is to bring about positive change that will improve these statistics over time,” says Dr. Dietze.
The issue of physical inactivity in young people has become a major concern to doctors across Canada. Pediatricians are speaking out on how the lack of active play is contributing to a record number of young children experiencing chronic health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mental health problems.
According to the latest released Active Healthy Kids Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth (2012), only 7 % of Canadian children and youth are meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 60 minutes per day.
For Dr. Dietze, this underlines the need for greater dialogue and for working together to improve outcomes. “Two recent studies, one with early learning practitioners and the other related to neighbourhood playgrounds, reinforce that communities, all levels of government, educators, parents and children need to work together to actualize the changes necessary to bring outdoor play back into the lives of children,” she says.
Participants in the symposium included representatives from government, school boards, early childhood education, hospitals, and post-secondary institutions. In total, nearly 75 stakeholders from across the region engaged in dialogue on a range of outdoor play-related topics.
During the afternoon, Kevin McNamara, deputy minister of Health and Wellness, signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the province with Kelly Murumets, president and CEO of ParticipACTION. The agreement supports Nova Scotia’s efforts to improve the health and wellness of children and their families through action plans such as Thrive!, the Early Years, and Better Care Sooner.
The symposium was sponsored jointly by Mount Saint Vincent University and the Industry Liaison Office.
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