July 4, 2013 – One in four children in Canada is overweight or obese and according to Statistics Canada, only 7% get the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. Our children's eating habits have changed so much that heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a myriad of other adult diseases are plaguing them at an unforeseen rate - and the statistics are staggering.
Dr. Kellie Leitch, MP for Simcoe-Grey, plays basketball with kids from St. Alban's Boys and Girls Club in Toronto (photo above). Photo courtesy of Health Canada – July 2013
To address obesity and physical inactivity, Honourable Dr. Kellie Leitch, Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey announced an investment of more than $1 million dollars over a three-year period made available by the Public Health Agency of Canada's Healthy Living fund, the Ontario After School Project and sponsored by the Leisure Information Network.
The Ontario Healthy Living Project is comprised of over 3,500 professionals at over 400 provincially funded 'After-School Program' sites in Ontario - for children and youth from Grades 1 to 12. While this project has been underway since March 2013, the website and training component will be up by the end of August.
“It is important for all sectors to work together in creating the environments that promote healthy living to reduce obesity and other risk factors that can lead to larger health problems. Everyone has a role to play," said Dr. Leitch.
The Ontario Health Living Project will include:
A web portal with detailed resources and services
RSS feeds with up-to-date information
Database of physical activities and ideas, and nutritional food choices
On-line platform to provide training for front-line staff and supervisors with resources for planning programs, supporting positive child and youth engagement, promoting diversity and building physical activity and healthy eating messages
“In a province where over a quarter of children and youth aged 5 to 19 years are overweight or obese, and only 14% are achieving recommended activity levels, after-school programs in Ontario have expressed the need for access to practical resources,” said Punch Jackson, Board Chair of the Leisure Information Network. “This project will help to address this gap.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Province of Ontario have a bilateral agreement to support healthy living initiatives for children and youth in the province.
"There's been a concerted effort particularly on the part of recreation professionals to fill that after school hour which is the prime time to get the children's attention and involve them in healthy activities," says Agnes Croxford, Manager of the National Recreation Database for Leisure Information Network.
"It's going great!" says Agnes exuberantly and I believe her.