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Eye On

Kids at lunch table

Helping Kids Stay Active and Healthy

After school programs across several regions are running, jumping and competing in relays to learn about Asthma and healthy lungs! Play for All is an innovative program that combines education on lung health and asthma awareness in a fun, interactive environment to help kids stay healthy and active. Participants learn the health-related benefits of physical activity especially for lung health.

The Lung Association – Ontario is pleased to be partnering with Boys and Girls Clubs in Hamilton, Scarborough, York Region and Durham Region during the 2017-18 school year on the delivery of this after school program. The program hopes to train more than 40 staff and reach 700 to 800 students between grades one through six. Play for All provides an opportunity for these children to learn in an environment that is comfortable, inclusive and engaging. It provides hands-on experience through lung health activities, and the participants have the opportunity to engage family and friends in what they are learning.

Asthma is a chronic disease. About one in five children have asthma. Regular physical activity is important to the health and well-being of all children. Yet children who have asthma and their families often see asthma as a barrier to being physically active. There is growing evidence in the literature to show that activity levels among children and youth with asthma are lower than their peers without asthma. Poorly controlled asthma can limit a child’s ability to play, exercise, and sleep — all critical to his or her development. Uncontrolled asthma can also lead to a child withdrawing from physical activity and sport. When asthma is well managed and well controlled, however, children who have asthma should be able to participate fully in all activities.
The Play for All program goals are to:

  • encourage children with asthma to become physically literate and active for life;
  • improve children’s understanding of lung health and the role of physical activity in maintaining it;
  • improve parents’ understanding and comfort level with their child’s participation in physical activities;
  • provide a supportive and safe exercise environment; and to
  • build the capacity of the community recreation sector to support children with asthma.
  • The Play for All program is comprised of staff training, program implementation, parent engagement and evaluation. The program has 25 different lung health activities
  • that are completed with the children over a 12-week period. These activities are divided into five different lung health sections.

L – look after them (Asthma & Lungs)

U – use them (Physical Activity & Lungs)

N – nurture them (Healthy Eating & Lungs)

G – guard them (Air Quality & Lungs)

S – save them (Tobacco Wise & Lungs)

This will be the third year the Play for All program has been offered in partnership with Boys and Girls clubs, and to date, the feedback from staff, participants and parents has been positive. During the 2016-17 school year, 83% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that the Play for All program helped them to understand asthma, including asthma symptoms, triggers and resources and 82% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that the program helped them to understand the importance of physical activity for lung health.

The parents seemed equally pleased, as 91% of them strongly agreed or agreed that the program was a positive experience for their child, and 93% of the parents strongly agreed or agreed that staff were knowledgeable about asthma including asthma symptoms, triggers and resources.

“My lungs are healthy because I exercise and eat healthy food!” – child

“I loved the games and learning about asthma.” – child

“I liked Play for All because it helped others learn about my child’s asthma.” – parent

“This was a great way to have the kids learn and play at the same time.” – staff

In addition to educating kids about their lung health, the program also trains staff on signs and symptoms of asthma and how to help children with asthma manage their attacks. This gives the staff, parents and children with asthma more confidence to participate in physical activities with the other children.

The Lung Association – Ontario is pleased to be a partner in a program that encourages healthy lungs and healthy lifestyle choices for children.

For more information about the Play for All program or for additional resources on asthma or lung health, please visit The Lung Association – Ontario website at: www.lungontario.ca, or email info@lungontario.ca, or call The Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864).

 

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