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Activate Aurora Schools

What is an “Activate Aurora” School?

Activate Aurora is an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) funded cross-sectorial Program designed to make Aurora Canada’s Most Active Community. Endorsed by the Mayor’s Task Force on Physical Activity, this program includes local School Boards, the Municipality, York Region Public Health, Sport Aurora, Seneca College, Southlake Hospital and Canadian Sport for Life Society.

Schools are recognized as the place where children grow and learn and the school environment is the best place to encourage healthy physical activity and healthy habits that can extend to the family and the community. It is why an Activate Aurora School is a valuable part of any program attempting to bring healthy physical activity to a community.

How is a School is “Activated”?

In order to stimulate greater amounts of healthy physical activity we follow a process of education and awareness, capacity building, and sustainability.

Education and awareness occurs both within the school community with positive messaging about physical activity in each school and similar supportive messages and tools provided outside the school, engaging parents and families with physical activity information designed to stimulate and support healthy activity.

Capacity building involves providing resources and professional development opportunities for teachers and others who work with children in the school so they can enhance the school experience and create build meaningful programs that build both competence and confidence in children regarding physical activity.

Sustainability occurs when curricular and co-curricular programs are developed and successfully implemented, through affective resources that result in positive health outcomes and increased healthy physical activity.

The Activate Aurora Schools Program

1. Safe, Healthy Walk-To-School

In one generation, the concept of walking to and from school has been lost and with it on average 2000 steps of healthy activity for children. Not only have the health benefits of walking been lost, but the emotional and social opportunities that come from walking to and from school has vanished. Schools have become congested places at morning and afternoon drop-off times not to mention the environmental damage that comes from vehicle use. Implementing a safe and healthy walk-to-school program will put healthy activity back into a child’s life and encourage positive social and emotional health during the walk to and from schools.

The Safe, Healthy Walk-to-School project is a collaborative effort among York Region Community and Health Services, the Municipality, York Regional Police, and Parent Council of the school. It is endorsed by the School Board. The objective is to encourage all students to increase their physical activity by walking some or all of their journey to school each day.

2. Quality Daily Physical Activity

The current Ontario curriculum calls for 20 minutes of daily physical activity for each child, grades 1-8, and an Activate Aurora School takes that commitment seriously. By designing and implementing in-school curricular activities that provide opportunities for physical activity that create physical literacy and competence in fundamental movement skills, an Activate Aurora School will successfully deliver the 20 minutes per day mandate. The increased competence developed by participation in the DPA program results in each students’ confidence increasing and encourages lifelong participation in physical activity. An Activate Aurora School includes teachers who are trained and skilled in bringing healthy physical activity to life in the school.

3. Multi-Sport After-School Program

Current standards for children suggests that 60 minutes per day of healthy physical activity is required for healthy living so an Activate Aurora School encourages additional extra-curricular opportunities after school, for children to be involved in additional activity and play. Sport is a vehicle for developing play strategies, but there is no competition and the program is designed and delivered by trained specialists who help kids build skills and have fun in a variety of environments such as outdoor, indoor, on snow and ice and in the pool. The objective of the multi-sport after school program is to build competence and confidence in any environment and produce happy, healthy and successful children through physical activity. While a fee is charged for the extra-curricular involvement, families who require financial support can get help from the Sport Aurora All Kids Can Play and Canadian Tire Jump Start Program to off-set costs significantly.

 

Is this Program endorsed by the School and School Board?

Yes, Activate Aurora Schools are selected because of their interest in creating an active environment for children in school and each school selected has the support of the School Board, the Principal of the School, the teachers and the Parent Council.

Is there a cost to be involved?

All activities that occur during the school day are completely funded. Activities that occur outside the regular school hours are subsidized and a cost-recovery fee applies to those registering.

Is this Program Mandatory?

Activate Aurora works with the school and teachers to provide resources for them to deliver age and developmentally appropriate activity within the school day and so it is curricular and part of each child’s school day, just like any other school activity. Activities that occur outside the regular school day are optional but encouraged.

What is Quality Daily Physical Activity (QDPA)?

QDPA is essential part of healthy lifestyle and learning for children of school age. The current guidelines are for each child to receive 30 minutes of vigorous activity each school day as part of the curriculum and QDPA activities ensure that minimum standard is achieved. Guidelines for maintaining healthy physical activity in children exceed 30 minutes. Current standards recommend each child has between 60 and 90 minutes of meaningful activity per day. It all can’t be done in school. That is where after-school, weekend and home activity is important.

Is it really safe to walk to school?

Yes. In fact with congestion at schools during drop-off and pick-up times, it is actually significantly more dangerous around congested schools when children are driven. In one generation we have lost almost 2000 steps on average for each child by removing this physically, emotionally and socially acceptable way of getting to and from school.

Where can I get more information?

More information about Activate Aurora and the Activate Aurora Schools program can be found on the School’s Web site and at www.activateaurora.ca. You are encouraged to register your family so you receive information and activities to help build a healthy active home environment. You will also be made aware of all important healthy active activities that are available in Aurora.

How can you at home participate?

Support the Activate Aurora School Program in the home by discussing physical activity with your children. Use the resources and tools provided to stimulate interest. Be a role model by promoting and participating in healthy and active habits including walks and both indoor and outdoor play.

Encourage your children to participate in the Safe, Healthy Walk-to-School Program. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Increasing the number of times per week they walk to-from school is a start or drop them off at designated drop-off points so they increase their steps each day.

Support their involvement in the DPA program and ask if they achieved 20 minutes of daily physical activity each day at school. Ask them what they learned. Ask them to demonstrate their skill development and support their new-found skills with encouraging comments. Play with your kids and help them develop skills that will be a lifelong benefit to them.

Consider participating and registering your child in a Multi-Sport Program which promotes physical literacy. The after-school program offered at your school is a good start, but many exist in the community that focus on developing skills rather than sport competition. The intent is to build skills in a fun, playful environment that builds confidence.