YOUTH VOICE: Schools need to take action

With the Olympics and BC Summer Games fresh in our minds, it might seem as if all our youngsters are involved in the world of athletics.

The truth is quite contrary to this belief.

A great deal has been published about the importance of physical activity. According to a study last month in The Lancet, a medical journal, 70-79.9 per cent of Canadian boys aged 13-15 do not meet a required 60 minutes of activity per day.

The number is even higher in girls – 80-89.9 per cent.

How do we fix the problem in B.C.?

Providing opportunities for young people, such as the recent BC Summer Games in Surrey, is certainly important. However, long-term effective strategies need to be implemented.

The current physical-education program in our schools is insufficient.

According to Ministry of Education guidelines, students from K-7 are to be provided at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Students in Grades 8-10 take required PE courses that provide required activity.

However, it is in Grade 11 and 12 that students are required to self-report at least 150 minutes of activity per week. In high school, I often observed fellow students who blatantly falsified this data. Regardless, a problem persists.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children aged six to 17 should be dedicating at least 60 minutes per day towards physical activity. The Public Health Agency of Canada  supports the 60-minute recommendation for youth aged 12-17.

It’s time the 150-minute weekly program is revamped. Minimum standards must be raised.

Should PE classes be mandatory for senior students? Should the current self-report system simply change to 300 minutes per week?

These are questions that need to be addressed, both at a societal and governmental level.

Parents of younger children also need to change their sedentary habits.

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity measures the quantitative affect that television viewing can have on waist size. For example, A 53-month-old child, watching more than 18 hours of TV per week, had his/her waist size increase 7.6 millimetres by age 10.

These statistics are not surprising, but they do send a reminder wake-up call.

The benefits of exercise for adolescents are obvious. In order to take advantage, the provincial government needs implement physical-education strategies that actually conform to current standards.

On the other hand, parents need to turn off the tube and encourage healthy habits in the household.

Japreet Lehal writes monthly for Peace Arch News on youth issues.


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