Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations

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Education Through School Sport
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Study Connects Recreation to Resiliency in Youth

Wednesday, December, 10, 2014

OFSAA strives to create opportunities for students to live active, healthy, and involved lives through school sport.

The physical and mental impact of participating in sport is crucial in the holistic development of young people.

A new study by Resiliency Initiatives and Parks and Recreation Ontario reinforces the importance of physical activity even more.

From High Five media release:

"Recreation has always been known to make a difference in children’s physical health. Now there’s a link to their emotional health. A study by Resiliency Initiatives and Parks and Recreation Ontario released on National Child Day shows an improvement in children’s resiliency during recreation programs. 

The study, which involved a questionnaire and more than 200 children in recreation programs across Canada, showed improvement in core character traits such as adaptability and social connectedness. 

“These traits, when fostered, can make a big difference in the way children develop and can have a huge impact on positive mental health,” says Dr. Wayne Hammond, President and CEO of Resiliency Initiatives, co-author of the study. “A child’s success does not depend on avoiding crisis, but rather to be able to come through it stronger. One of the findings the study revealed was the enhanced capacity of the children to develop positive social relationships – especially with a caring adult which research clearly identifies as one of the more critical protective factors enhancing the development of positive mental health in children.” 

Parks and Recreation Ontario, through its national HIGH FIVE standard, partnered with Resiliency Initiatives on the study to look at the effects of recreation on child resiliency. The study had children aged 6 to 12 fill out questionnaires at the beginning of their recreation program, most which lasted at least 10 weeks. Then they filled them out again at the end of the recreation program. Some of the afterschool programs went on for 8 months. Only programs that completed pre and post questionnaires were included in the report. 

“This is just the beginning of our work in this area. We have learned a lot through this process and while it has further substantiated the research on which HIGH FIVE was based, we want to continue to study these trends. We are in a great position to ensure the findings in this study are reflected in new resources that we can make available to organizations working with children across the country,” says LJ Bartle, HIGH FIVE National Director. “Front line leaders have a real opportunity to impact kids’ lives by developing meaningful relationships with them and helping them to develop their core character traits. That nurturing is what will really make a difference."

Click the cover image below to download the full PDF report