Parks and play - Let's get more kids outside and active!

Canadian Parks Council supports Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play released today

OTTAWA, June 9, 2015 /CNW/ - The Canadian Parks Council supports the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play released today in concert with the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

The evidence-informed statement finds that access to active play in nature and outdoors – with its risks – is essential for healthy child development. The 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, including the Canadian Parks Council, and was reviewed and edited by over 1,600 stakeholders from across Canada and around the world. .

According to the Position Statement and ParticipACTION Report Card, our propensity to keep kids indoors to ensure they are safe, limits their opportunities for physical activity, endangering their long-term health. This finding aligns with Connecting Canadians to Nature: An investment in the well-being of our citizens that describes how Canadians today spend on average 90% of their time indoors, with increasingly sedentary lifestyles that are contributing to a variety of chronic health issues. 

"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 weight of evidence supporting increasing connections to nature and the outdoors continues to mount and park agencies across Canada are committed to collaborating with others to find ways to encourage Canadian families to connect with nature from coast to coast to coast. 

Within a generation, Canada has transitioned from a rural to an urban nation, with 80% of Canadians now living in cities.  Increasing access to parks and green space where children live, learn and play is something the Canadian Parks Council is committed to working toward.

"Canada's extraordinary system of parks has immense value and it is imperative for us to work collaboratively across sectors to create new opportunities that will help maximize the many benefits of personally experiencing nature and the outdoors," says Dawn Carr, Executive Director, Canadian Parks Council.

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. 

The Position Statement includes a number of recommendations to help increase access to nature and the outdoors and all children's opportunities for self-directed play.

To download the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card Highlight Report, including the Position Statement, or the 58-page Full Report, please visit www.participactionreportcard.com.  To learn more about the Canadian Parks Council, please visit www.parks-parcs.ca.

About the Canadian Parks Council
Since 1962, federal provincial and territorial governments have collaborated through the Canadian Parks Council (CPC) to promote excellence in parks and protected areas management, to advance park and protected area values and interests, and to encourage cooperation and mutual support among member agencies.

 

SOURCE Parks Canada

For further information: Dawn Carr, Executive Director, Canadian Parks Council, (705) 806-0391, (888) 502-1737, dcarr@parks-parcs.ca, www.parks-parcs.ca


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