Researchers at the University of Western Ontario will resume a study next Fall in which they plant GPS on elementary school children in Ontario, Canada. Why oh why? This is a concerted effort to understand how their environment influences their activity levels.
The study (in its first phases) is the largest of its kind in Canada. It aims to explore factors at school and in the surrounding community. Its primary goal is to help researchers understand why some kids (who live less than a mile away) get rides to school (every day!). The information will be used to make meaningful changes to foster a more active, healthier lifestyle.
Climbing childhood obesity rates – Statistics from Canada say about one-in-four school-aged children are overweight – as well as evidence that exercise and green space can be a boost for learning have helped ignite interest in creating exercise-friendly spaces for children. Parents are also looking into outdoor playground equipment options for their own backyard.
But change in the schoolyard – which is supposed to foster an active break from indoor lessons – is very likely to be slow, with outdoor spaces low on the priority list in an era of budget crunches and crumbling infrastructure.