A new non-profit organization is working with community groups to help boost activity levels among children and youth, especially in the after-school period.
Recreation New Brunswick identified the period between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. as a “risky” time for young people when it comes to physical activity levels.
Tara Werner, the programs manager at Recreation New Brunswick, helped develop a new program called "NB Plays" for after-school programs so they can find ways to encourage more activities during that high-risk time period.
“Often times that timeframe has been considered as a risky timeframe because kids and youth are unsupervised and they can go home and they can go in front of their computers, video games, televisions and often times that is accompanied with unhealthy eating habits,” she said.
“As well as they are unsupervised or it is a time for risky behaviours to happen because they are just unsupervised and bored.”
NB Plays has created a playbook for after-school programs to help develop healthy lifestyles in children and young people.
The document includes recipes for healthy eating, physical activities and mental health exercises. It has also specific components designed for First Nations communities.
Werner said the New Brunswick-led initiative was assisted by a federal grant. Recreation New Brunswick has also worked with the provincial government and teamed up with provincial organizations.
The importance of the initiative can be found in recent statistics.
Last year, Canada's Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth showed 90 per cent of young people in the country aren't active enough and young people in New Brunswick had the lowest physical activity rates and some of the highest obesity levels in Canada.
Werner said Recreation New Brunswick is hoping this initiative will continue to build momentum and develop in more communities.
A future goal is to extend beyond the after-school hours and focus on children up to five years old.