By Andrew Nielsen SPECIAL TO THE COLCHESTER WEEKLY NEWS
Research has shown that the after-school time period is one of the most inactive portion of a child’s day.
They often use this time for ‘screen time’ (time on the computer, watching TV, texting, etc.) or other sedentary activities instead of physical activity.
The majority of school-aged children after Grade 3 do not meet the recommend guidelines for physical activity and the figures are lower for females.
We know the lifelong problems that can arise from sedentary behaviour and not getting enough physical activity. This is why the recreation departments in Fundy Region (East Hants, Colchester and Cumberland) in partnership with the Department of Health and Wellness, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and, in Cumberland County, the YMCA will again offer after-school programs at select schools in the region. They will start in late October with the goal being two programs per week for each school for six weeks before Christmas, followed by an additional 12 weeks in the new year.
Last year was a successful pilot year for this program and we hope to build on that success this year. The programs will be held at 19 schools in the region and will be offered to youth ages 10 to 14 with an emphasis on females, but will be open to all.
The after-school programs will also focus on more non-traditional activities instead of the standard organized sports. The goal is to teach the participants ways that they can be active during their day-to-day life without being on the sports team or part of a club.
Participants will also be offered a healthy snack at the program as healthy eating goes hand in hand with physical activity. All the partners involved want to ensure that all the programs maintain a high standard.
Rebecca MacGregor has been retained as the program coordinator for the Colchester-East Hants area and Rachel Bird in a similar role in Cumberland. Two qualified leaders for each school will be hired to facilitate the programs and a significant amount of effort will be focused on training and leadership development. We want to build on what was started last year and to inspire more children to be more active more often and help develop strong leaders of tomorrow.
Andrew Nielsen is the recreation and physical activity coordinator for the Town of Stewiacke.