Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada Endorses Key Recommendations for Improving Children's Health in Leitch Report - "Reaching for the Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth"



    MARKHAM, ON, March 28 /CNW/ - Pam Jolliffe, President and CEO, Boys and
Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC), today applauded the report "Reaching for the
Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth", released earlier
this week by Dr. Kellie Leitch, for its emphasis on addressing child obesity,
child mental health and the after-school needs of children and youth.
    The report takes the important step of identifying the need for
government policy initiatives at the federal level to improve the
opportunities, health and well-being of Canadian children and youth. It also
clearly states that, "investing from a public policy perspective, in the
health of all of our children, is as essential to our growth as a nation as
investing in its infrastructure."
    "As a leading provider of quality after-school programs for
200,000 children and youth across Canada," said Jolliffe, "Boys and Girls
Clubs of Canada wholeheartedly supports the recommendations in the Leitch
report, particularly the need for government support for quality after-school
programs for all children and youth. We are very pleased to see the call for a
national after-school initiative as one of the key recommendations in
addressing the issue."
    In over 700 community locations across Canada, Boys and Girls Clubs offer
after-school and out-of-school programs that positively and preventatively
address many child health issues including child obesity, mental health and
overall development. In addition to lessening the risk for poor physical
health and mental health, these programs reduce the risk of engagement in
risky and destructive behaviours, and the risk of likelihood of accidents and
injuries.
    There is mounting evidence that structured community programs and
opportunities for positive activities are critical for healthy development and
provide powerful benefits to children, youth and their communities. These are
also the things that young people themselves say they want. After-school
programs have been shown to enhance academic performance, improve peer
relationships and feelings of increased competency.
    "With many of our members being from low income or less advantaged
communities, we are also pleased to see that this report supports "giving
every child an opportunity to achieve the same health outcomes - no matter
what background they are from," added Jolliffe.
    Low income families face a number of barriers to ensuring that their
children have opportunities to participate in extracurricular and
out-of-school programs (e.g. sports, recreation, after-school, care) including
the costs of programs, rising user fees, limited program availability,
language barriers for newcomers, the pressures of two parents working, and
growing conditions of poverty affecting many families.
    "Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is also pleased to see the emphasis on
addressing child obesity and acknowledgement of the role of after-school
programs as a key recommendation in addressing this issue, given Canada's
abysmal current ranking as 27th among 29 OECD nations in child obesity rates,"
noted Jolliffe.
    Boys and Girls Clubs across Canada offer children and youth many
opportunities for supervised structured and unstructured physical activity,
healthful snacks and meals, as well as education on healthy lifestyle.
    For more information on the approach Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is
taking to address inactivity among young people, please refer to the BGCC
position paper, "Contributing to Physical Activity and Healthy Eating for
Young Canadians" available at
    http://www.bgccan.com/content.asp?DocID=72 .
    "Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is very pleased that the Government of
Canada, and in particular, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Tony
Clement, has shown leadership in commissioning this report that stresses the
need for a national strategy addressing the needs of Canada's children and
youth," said Jolliffe. "We look forward to working with the federal government
to further develop and implement the key recommendations outlined in the
report."

    About Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

    Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is a leading, national provider of
programs to children and youth that support the healthy physical, educational
and social development of close to 200,000 young people and their families
each year. In 700 community locations across Canada, clubs offer after-school
programs in physical recreation, technology, the arts, literacy, personal
growth and more. Many clubs also provide meals, emergency shelter, family
support programs and other support to children, youth and families at risk.
Boys and Girls Clubs have been helping young Canadians to discover, develop
and achieve their potential for over 100 years. To learn more, visit
www.bgccan.com.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Carol Davies, BGCC
Communications, (905) 477-7272 ext. 234, cdavies@bgccan.com


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