New program offers community-based solutions to inactive kids

With Canadian children receiving an “F” grade on active play and leisure according to the latest report card from Active Healthy Kids Canada, York University’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health is at the forefront of providing community-based solutions for inactive kids.

Kine Kids, developed by Angelo Belcastro, chair of York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in conjunction with colleagues at the University of New Brunswick, is a new program that goes beyond typical sport and recreation programs. It provides guided active play for children between the ages of six to 12 who are not accustomed to activity and are often overweight, obese or have chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Angelo Belcastro

It not only addresses the physical component of providing kids with opportunities for exercise through play, it tackles issues of low self-esteem – a major factor that inhibits many kids from joining sport or recreational activities – by using a role model, non-punitive approach to positively change behaviour. Kine Kids also focuses on developing children’s’ social skills.

“York University is on the ground developing community-based solutions to the problem of inactive kids by providing fun, accessible guided active play,” says Belcastro, president-elect of the Canadian Council of University Physical Education Kinesiology Administrators (CCUPEKA).
Currently, there is little work being done with empirical data to address the problem. “Kine Kids,” however, is trying to fill that gap by gathering data from a host of measures, including testing BMI, percentage of body fat, waist circumference, aerobic power, blood pressure and heart rate. The data will provide a report of student health and be used to help raise awareness among program providers and parents, as well as to assist in designing programs to better meet the needs of inactive children.

York is working on a plan to provide a protocol or module for a guided active play delivery mechanism for schools and community centres across the country. The long term goal is to develop a national databank of objective, empirical data on effective, guided active play that planners, practitioners and policy makers can use. An advantage of the Kine Kids program, is it can be tailored to meet the different needs of various communities.

The program was first piloted last summer at York’s Keele campus in conjunction with the York Youth Connection summer camp for kids. Program coordinators are now taking the pilot program into the Jane-Finch community this summer to the Driftwood Community Centre, as an initiative under the umbrella of the York University – TD Community Engagement Centre. The coordinators are also hoping to expand it into after-school programs at two York Region schools for the fall and winter.

To watch a video about the program, click here.