Written by: Louise McClelland, Projects Coordinator, Ever Active Schools
There are more than 1,000 after-school programs operating in Alberta. These spaces are the perfect place for children and youth to engage in a variety of physical activities outside of school. Recent Stats Canada data tells us that only about one third of Canadian children are meeting the 60+ minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) guidelines. However, about 50 per cent of Canadian children are within 30 minutes of meeting these guidelines.
BY HELPING CHILDREN ACHIEVE 30 MINUTES OF MVPA IN AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS, WE CAN HELP MORE CHILDREN ACROSS THE PROVINCE MEET THE 60-MINUTE GUIDELINE AND BE WELL ON THEIR WAY TO EMBRACING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES.
Recently, with support from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ever Active Schools led a process for developing activity guidelines for after school programs in Alberta, which highlight the need for 30 minutes of MVPA in the after school time period.
After school programs are challenged with a number of barriers when it comes to facilitating physical activity, including access to space and the lack of staff knowledge and awareness of the importance of physical activity and how to facilitate it.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF GREAT RESOURCES AVAILABLE ONLINE TO HELP WITH PLANNING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IN AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS, INCLUDING:
- The Canadian Active After School Partnership Activity database: this database contains over 850 activities and allows program leaders to search for activities by age group, activity type, play area, group size, fundamental skill and adaptations. Simple search by any of those filters and a list of activities is generated with a set of step-by-step instructions for each activity. Have a great activity to share? You can even submit it to the database!
- Active for Life’s Activity database: this database is similar to the Canadian Active After School Partnership database. It includes hundreds of activities that you can sort by age and skill. There are activities focusing on agility, balance, catch, dribble, gallop, hop, jump, kick, etc. If you’re looking for activities that can help you build a particular skill in your after school program, this is a great place to start!
- The Playworks Game Library: this game library houses hundreds of games that are quick and easy to facilitate. In addition to the search options found in the previous two databases, this library also allows you to search by available equipment. Playworks also provides the option to download the entire Game Guide, which contains all of the games from the library in PDF format, sorted by game type (ice breaker, tag game, cooperative game, etc.).
- Green Schoolyards America’s Schoolyard Activity Guides: looking for some fun activities to get your after school program outdoors? Green Schoolyards America has created two guides to help inspire schools to take children outdoors. These guides include hundreds of activities, with contributions from more than 25 countries across the world, all centred around getting children outdoors to explore their schoolyards. Check out these guides for activity ideas that support art, play, health, social and emotional well-being, community engagement and more!
Incorporating physical activity in the critical after school hours in an important way to keep our children active for life.