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Keeping Children Active – Year Round
In Canada, we come by our need to hibernate through the winter months quite naturally. The inclination to burrow under blankets and in front of the television is a hard one to ignore –despite resolutions to be active more, we seem to do less. And because children often look to their parents as role models, they’re at risk for being less active through the winter months as well.
With before and after school programs for children in over 200 school locations and 20 early learning and child care centres, PLASP recognizes the importance of physical activity and outdoor time - year-round.
Weather permitting, children in the PLASP programs go outside on a daily basis. In addition, a minimum number of active game sessions are offered each week.
Kathleen Alfano, Director of Child Research at Fisher Price, points out that children are drawn to playing outdoors. The benefits of outdoor time for children are many. According to Alfano, “it allows them to explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence. Playing actively outdoors also increases flexibility, fine and gross motor skills and is related to the development of a wide variety of physical skills, including those involved in sports.”
And according to www.everydayhealth.com, Deborah Quilter, Director of Yoga at the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mt. Sinai Hospital, says that “staying active in the winter boosts immunity by keeping the lymphatic system active.” She also argues that in order for fitness to be effective, it must be consistent.
When is it considered to be too cold?
PLASP follows the guidelines developed by the Peel Health Department during extreme weather conditions to keep children safe from serious adverse health effects, such as frostbite, during the winter months. At rest, a person is able to maintain their core body temperature until the temperature falls to minus 28 degrees Celsius. In order to err on the side of caution, consideration is given to keeping children indoors when the wind chill brings the temperatures outdoors to below minus 25 degrees Celsius.
On days like today, the children would be kept indoors.
Regardless of the season, physical activity throughout the year is something that PLASP parents can rely on.
“Children are given the opportunity to participate in a number of physical activities during the winter months to keep them active,” says Sandy Edmonds, Vice President of Operations at PLASP. “We like to bring the children outdoors whenever we can, but during inclement weather, a lot of our programs can use the school gymnasium for games and sports that require lots of running, jumping or moving around.”
But when the temperatures rise, and it’s safe to be outdoors, the children enrolled in PLASP programs are encouraged to go outside. Popular wintertime activities include building snowmen, igloos or snow sculptures, sledding (where available), or creating “snow art” using colored water in squeeze bottles.
If your child is enrolled in a PLASP Before or After School program, they are getting an adequate amount of daily activity Monday to Friday, even during the winter months. Hopefully, this takes some of the pressure off of you as a parent to get your children moving on the weekends – when you’d all rather be cozy and warm inside.
PLASP Child Care Services