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"Healthy habits must start early": YMCA

St. John’s (NL) APRIL 27, 2010 – The YMCA-YWCA of Northeast Avalon today announced its support for the 2010 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, released by Active Healthy Kids Canada and its strategic partners, ParticipACTION and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute – Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO).

“The Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card describes a reality for Canada's children and youth that is unacceptable to the YMCA” said Michelle Northover, Director of Development. “It doesn’t have to be this way, these outcomes can be changed.”

The sixth annual Report Card reveals that fewer than half of Canadian kids under five are getting regular physical activity as part of their daily routines. Although international recommendations vary, children between the ages of one and five should participate in at least two hours of physical activity each day, accumulated over many sessions through play, games, active transportation and recreation.

“Active play may be fun, but it’s not frivolous,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, Active Healthy Kids Canada, and Director of HALO. “In the early years, active play is required for healthy development, as it builds confidence and basic movement skills, and fosters social interaction, imaginations and self-esteem.”

As our children age, their physical activity levels are not improving. For the fourth year in a row, the Report Card assigns an F for Physical Activity Levels, as only 12 per cent of Canadian children and youth are meeting Canada’s physical activity guidelines of 90 minutes a day.

“We know that if given the opportunity and the support they need, children will choose to be active” said Michelle Northover, Director of Development, “but this critical behaviour change isn’t just about kids. Adults are very important role models; children need to see that making healthy choices can be easy and fun.”

Organizations like the YMCA have a unique and important role to play in a child’s healthy development. Resources and activities like those available through the YMCA Raising Healthy Kids tool kit for parents and Healthy Kids Day open house in June help families see the benefits of active living for their children. The Y offers programs for children of all ages and encourages family involvement with the commitment to never turn anyone away due to inability to pay. Programs for children to get them moving and active are offered at the Mount Pearl Y, the St. John’s Y and throughout the region at all our child care and day camp locations in St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Torbay, Conception Bay South, and Foxtrap. There are also YMCA locations in Central and Western Newfoundland.

About the YMCA

The YMCA-YWCA of Northeast Avalon is a multi-service charity offering programs in health, employment and child care since 1854. Every year over 14,000 people take part in Y programs in our communities at our more than 30 locations throughout the Northeast Avalon.

For further information or to arrange interviews contact:

Michelle Northover, Director of Development
YMCA-YWCA of Northeast Avalon

Active Healthy Kids Canada

© YMCA of Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador