Government of Canada invests in physical activity programs for children and youth
Encouraging physical activity early can help improve overall health and prevent chronic disease
January 17, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
Physical activity is a pillar of healthy living, and yet only 15% of 5-17 year olds were meeting Canada’s 24-hour movement guidelines prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, research shows that even fewer children and youth are meeting these guidelines. In Canada, some children are at an even higher risk of physical inactivity, namely: Indigenous, racialized, and immigrant children and those with disabilities.
Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced an investment of more than $4.8 million to fund two projects that support healthy living and increased physical activity for children, youth, and their families. Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular physical activity and healthy eating can reduce the risk of children in Canada developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other cardiovascular diseases later in life.
To help children most at risk of physical inactivity, the Sport for Life Society is receiving more than $3.79 million for the Physical Literacy for Communities project. Reaching up to 150,000 children and youth aged 2-18 in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nunavut, and Atlantic Canada, the project aims to increase physical activity of Indigenous, racialized, and immigrant children, as well as children with disabilities. This three-year project will support schools and communities in addressing specific local barriers to healthy active living, as well as build community capacity through training on physical literacy.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is receiving up to $1.1 million for the Healthy Kids HOME (Health on the Move for Equity) Program which supports urban families with children aged 12 and under. Thunder Bay experiences a higher rate of chronic diseases compared to provincial averages, and this project will create Neighbourhood Wellness Hubs to serve as a safe, trusted space for health promotion programmes, including outreach to families with young children. The Hubs will provide support to and encourage families to increase their levels of physical activity and to make it a habit to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
“The rising rates of diabetes and obesity in children across Canada, especially among Indigenous, racialized, and immigrant children is a big concern. For children and youth to be at their healthiest, they need high levels of physical activity and healthy foods during their day. Through these two projects, children will get to learn healthy habits early on, which in turn will support good health throughout their adult life.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Since the onset of the pandemic, only 4.8% of children aged 5-11 and 0.8% of youth aged 12-17 meeting Canada’s 24-hour movement guidelines.
Funding announced today is being distributed through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Multi Sectoral Partnerships (MSP) program, which has invested $20 million a year since 2013 in innovative projects across the country that aim to lower Canadians’ risk of chronic disease by tackling common modifiable risk factors, namely unhealthy eating, smoking, and physical inactivity. The MSP is now known as the Healthy Canadians and Communities Fund.
The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (ages 5-17 years) are the first evidence-based guidelines to consider activities throughout the whole day. For optimal health benefits, children and youth should achieve at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, several hours of structured and unstructured light physical activity, and 9-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
Sport for Life’s vision is for everyone to have the opportunity to participate in quality sport and physical literacy experiences, and its mission is to develop physical literacy and improve the quality of sport.
Thunder Bay District Health Unit supports healthy lives together with a mission to improve, promote and protect the health and well-being of the population in the District of Thunder Bay by delivering high-quality programming and best possible health incomes for the population and communities they serve.
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
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