By: Peter Warren

As we have previously discussed countless times on our blog, there is a pivotal need for the presence of physical activity in the lives of today’s youth in order for them to reap the benefits of living an active lifestyle and understand the important role it should play in the remainder of their lives. However, we cannot rely on children to figure this out on their own. As parents and coaches, we need to create an environment that promotes physical activity that not only provides them with the opportunity, but encourages children to understand the benefits of active living.
In this piece, we will discuss the results of the recently published 2015 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, presented by ParticipACTION. To get a better understanding on the direction Canada is heading, we will also include the numbers from last year’s report, helping to reflect on how our country has made efforts to improve over the course of the calendar year.
Overall Physical Activity Levels: D-        (2014 = D-)
Considered the most important stat listed on the report card, it is evident that Canada needs to make a concentrated effort to improve their grade. 70% of children aged 3-4 get the recommended 180 minutes of daily activity at any intensity, however the numbers drop considerably as the youth become older. Only 14% of kids meet the recommended 60 minute guidelines at age 5-11, with only 5% of children age 12-17 meeting the guidelines.
Sedentary Behaviors: D-        (2014 = F)
As today’s youth are exposed to more and more different screen options such as television, video games, and smartphones, it becomes increasingly difficult for parents to monitor the sedentary behavior of their children. Even though sedentary activity increases with age, the increasing number of children meeting the required guidelines of less than two hours of screen time per day is promising.
Community & Environment: B+        (2014 = B+)
Even though Canada has demonstrated poor grades with regards to the overall physical activity levels of our youth, it is evident that the nation’s communities are making a concentrated effort to give children the opportunity to take part in different forms of physical activity. Only 11% of parents reported a “lack of access” as a barrier to their children being physically active.
Government Strategies & Investments: B-        (2014 = C)
In previous years, there as being some notable federal policy and investment efforts made in order to try to improve the overall physical activity of youth in Canada, however, the implementation and evaluation of these efforts has been lacking. The level of federal support has improved considerable over the course of 2015, including the implementation of the Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015. Furthermore, Sport Canada invested $16 million in sport participation for children and youth, demonstrating the government’s commitment to improvement.
Organized Physical Activity Participation: B-        (2014 = C+)
Similar to Canada’s ranking in 2014, the country does an excellent job providing children with the opportunity to take part in physical activity found in an organized setting. A reported 75% of Canadian youth (age 5-19) participate in organized physical activities or sport. Canada’s improvement in this area over the course of 2015 can be demonstrated in the number of children with disabilities who now have the opportunity to take part in organized physical activity, where 75% of families reported their disabled child now has an opportunity that may not have been available in the past.
This report highlights a number of areas in which Canada does an excellent job in promoting and facilitating the involvement of the nation’s youth in various forms of physical activity, as well as highlighting areas where the country needs serious improvement. The fact that a number of areas have improved over the course of the year yet the overall grade remains the same clearly shows this is a long process and Canadians must be patient.
For parents, it is especially important to remember that organized physical activity is helpful, but it shouldn’t be considered enough. We will leave you with this quote from ParticipACTION, who do an excellent job in outlining their position regarding the pivotal role that active play can have on the physical development of a child.
Access to active play in nature and outdoors—with its risks—is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings—at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature.

Want to read more? Check out the full report cards below:
2014 Report Card:
– 2015 Report Card:

Source: Steve Nash Youth Basketball Blog
Subscribe to Email Newsletter
Share this article to...