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Physical Activity

The most effective way for school communities to ensure the best possible outcomes in support of children and youth, is to use a comprehensive approach. Comprehensive School Health is an internationally recognized framework. The Ontario Ministry of Education supports this comprehensive approach with Foundations for a Healthy School which suggests that schools implement activities under the following five components in order to effectively address a health-related topic, (e.g. physical activity).

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Offering a wide range of opportunities to learn, practise, and promote positive and healthy behaviours. Visit our Educators pages for more information, lesson plans, curriculum supports and resources to support classroom teaching related to Physical Activity.

School and Classroom Leadership

School and classroom leadership focuses on creating a positive classroom and school environment by identifying shared goals and priorities that are responsive to the needs of a school community.

The following are examples of strategies that could assist you in promoting school and classroom leadership:

Student Engagement

Student engagement refers to the extent to which students identify with and value their learning; feel a sense of belonging at school; and are informed about, engaged with and empowered to participate in and lead academic and non-academic activities.

The following are examples of strategies that could assist with student engagement at your school:

  • Encourage educators to provide students with opportunities to lead daily physical activity in the classroom or school-wide, e.g. a physical activity challenge
  • Encourage educators to engage students in developing school and classroom physical activity ideas with their peers
  • Encourage educators to provide student leadership opportunities during physical education classes
  • Encourage educators to reduce the time students spend sitting during the day, e.g. through student led pop-up physical activities
  • Create opportunities for student input on what supports they need to be more active, e.g. bike racks, recess equipment, or standing desks.

Social and Physical Environments

Healthy, safe and caring social and physical environments support learning and contribute to the positive cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development of students.

The following are examples of strategies that could assist you in creating supportive social and physical environments at your school:

  • School Travel Planning – School Travel Planning (STP) is a comprehensive process designed to increase local ownership of Active & Safe Routes to School by engaging stakeholders that include School Boards, municipal transportation planners and engineers, public health, police, parents, students and school staff. Stakeholders undertake an assessment of barriers and enablers to active school travel and use this knowledge to develop and implement action plans. See Green Communities Canada video to learn more. 
    • Public health staff are available to work with school communities to facilitate and support each step in the School Travel Planning process. Take a look at our STP flyer (PDF) and contact us.
  • A Toolkit for Developing and Influencing Physical Activity Policy (PDF) – The Policy workbook is for anyone wanting to create a physical activity policy within their community, school or workplace. It is suitable for all levels of experience or comfort with policy development.
  • International Walk to School Day/Month – Includes information and resources to help make your International Walk to School event a success. The goal of the walk varies from community to community. Some walks rally for safer and improved streets, some to promote healthier habits and some to protect the environment. Whatever the reason, International Walk to School events encourage a more walkable world – one community at a time.
  • Naturalization Outdoor Play Areas at Schools to Support Physical Activity and Health - A Radid Evidence Review (PDF) – School ground greening or naturalization, is a growing international movement. It involves transforming expanses of turf and asphalt into places that include natural and built elements.  Naturalized school grounds accommodate the play interests and abilities of all students, and represent a promising means of getting more children moving in ways that promote physical, social and cognitive health.  This evidence review provides key messages, recommendations and resources for schools to make the most of outdoor free time and support outdoor classroom initiatives. Public health nurses can provide information and support for implementation of play and learning environments that include a variety of natural and built elements.
  • Tarmac Stencils – Encouraging children to be active at recess is important and will help students be more ready to learn. For this reason, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has a set of tarmac stencils that schools can borrow. For more information, see the following links:

Home, School and Community Partnerships

Home, school and community partnerships engage parents, extended family, school staff, child care and family support programs and community groups in a mutually beneficial way to support, enhance and promote opportunies for learning and well-being. Community partners provide consultation, resources and services to support staff, students and families.  

The following are examples of strategies that could assist you in promoting home, school and community partnerships at your school:

  • Community Use of Schools – Ontario's schools should be community hubs where all people can gather to learn, participate in community-based organizations and stay active. The Ontario government is helping to ensure that school space is more affordable and accessible to the communities those schools serve.
  • School Travel Planning – School Travel Planning is a comprehensive process designed to increase local ownership of Active & Safe Routes to School by engaging stakeholders that include School Boards, municipal transportation planners and engineers, public health, community groups, police, parents, students and school staff.   Stakeholders undertake an assessment of barriers and enablers to active school travel and use this knowledge to develop and implement action plans.
  • Community partners may also be available to assist in the development, planning, and implementation of Healthy Schools initiatives, and are a valuable asset to any Healthy Schools Committee.  For more information about community partners click on our Community Partnerships page. 
  • Health Unit Programs and Services for Elementary Schools (PDF)
  • Health Unit Programs and Services for Secondary Schools (PDF)  

Additional Resources

Have additional questions?

Contact Health Connection:  705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 or email.

Are you concerned about a student and/or would like additional information related to counselling or community supports? Find out where to get help

If you would like assistance in developing an action plan for physical activity, contact your SMDHU Healthy Schools public health nurse through Health Connection by calling 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

 

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