Activate a Plan for Your Family
Over 50% of children in Canada are not doing enough to achieve their “optimal growth and development,” according to studies cited by Health Canada. This shocking statistic should be enough to motivate parents to work with their offspring to improve diets and increase physical activity – but where do they start?
Busy parents are often overwhelmed with day to day chores and activities, and may feel that they do not have the time, money or means, to tackle the necessary task of working to improve their child’s health and fitness. However, there are fairly easy ways to access knowledge and support services.
One approach to start with is to visit your family doctor for advice. These days, not every family is able to have their own family physician, or pediatrician, but there are many walk-in clinics, as well as provincial health centres, with professionals available to provide guidance.
The Dieticians of Canada website has valuable reference material for families, including information on how to locate a dietician in your area, to work with you to create a healthy eating plan.
“Get up off the sofa, turn off the electronic devices, and move!”
Government websites and agencies are another place to begin a search. All levels of government provide health information online, and often have programs in place to assist families in their pursuit of wellness.
For example, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health, recently announced a new Government of Canada project, The Play Exchange, a contest which asks Canadians to send their ideas to help youngsters “get moving.” The aim is to assist the development of new initiatives, improve fitness, and reduce chronic disease among youth. Judges will choose the most promising contest ideas; community and business leaders will mentor contestants to develop the concepts; and in January 2015, the finest innovations will be highlighted on TV, and voted upon by the public. Up to $1 million will be awarded to the winner to bring the top idea to fruition.
In addition, “The Play Exchange’s Active at School Challenge is looking for the best idea in each province and territory that helps children achieve one hour of physical activity every day. The Play Exchange’s Active at School Challenge will provide $3,000 to the top innovation, entered by a school , in each province and territory.”
Moreover, the federal government revived the popular ParticipACTION plan a few years ago. It also created a Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, which allows parents to claim up to $500 for eligible fitness program fees for children under the age of 16 (or 18, if the child has a disability).
Closer to home, the City of Edmonton works to ensure young citizens are “welcome and involved” and “promotes their well-being and safety,” through Child Friendly Edmonton. The plan highlights kid-friendly parks, pools, rinks and playgrounds; activities such as day-camps, sports teams, and art programs or performances; and visits to locations like the John Janzen Nature Centre, Edmonton Valley Zoo, or City Farm.
The provincial government has information and initiatives for children in Alberta, as well. In 2010, it launched the website, Raising Children, which coordinates information regarding children aged 0-6. Additionally, a co-departmental approach is used, with Alberta Education and Alberta Health in the forefront through school and health care programs.
With a little research, you can locate other health and fitness resources to boost your child’s well-being. Alberta Recreation and Parks Association oversees Everybody Gets to Play, which was developed by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association. This project aims to increase access to recreation for youth from lower income families.
“There are easy ways to access knowledge and support services.”
Sports for Kids provides child care along with physical activity, for ages 3 to 16, in the Edmonton Westmount area. The organization offers fitness experiences and instruction for youth in attendance.
Don’t forget to check the options and facilities available through your local community league. For more than 90 years, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues has featured all sorts of recreational choices for families.
The most important thing to do for your child and your family is to get up off the sofa, turn off the electronic devices, and move indoors or out. You will save yourselves from a lifetime of health problems, feel better, and accomplish more with your lives!
Alberta Health Services
Alberta Recreation and Parks Association
City of Edmonton
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta
Dieticians of Canada
Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues
Government of Canada
The Play Exchange
Sports for Kids