About four per cent of Canadian children are living with a disability and their level of physical activity has been unknown, until now. A new partnership led by UBC Okanagan researchers aims to determine the extent to which school-aged children and youth are meeting the Canadian movement and screen time guidelines. Their goal is to provide evidence-based protocols and policies to improve physical activity opportunities for all Canadians with disabilities.
“Our preliminary findings from the Canadian Disability Participation Project indicate that children and youth with physical disabilities are not meeting the Canadian guidelines,” says primary researcher Kathleen Martin Ginis, a professor with UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Health and Social Development. “Our new project is expanding the pilot study to include a much larger population of children and youth and to examine both the types of activities they participate in and for how long.”
Martin Ginis will be collaborating with colleagues Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos from the University of Toronto and Rebecca Bassett-Gunter from York University.
This first-ever Canadian-wide project is made possible thanks to nearly $500,000 in funding over the next five years from Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.
“At Jumpstart, we understand how important sport and recreation is for kids, and not simply because of the physical benefits,” says Scott Fraser, President of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. “Although we often hear about the impact sport has had on a child’s life, it can be hard to measure. We are proud to support UBC’s research in this field, which will provide valuable insight as we work towards giving even more kids a sporting chance.”
“Until now, the two biggest barriers to expanding our pilot study have been funding and difficulties identifying and recruiting large number of children and youth with disabilities to the study,” says Martin Ginis. “This partnership with Jumpstart is providing a tremendous opportunity to overcome these challenges.”
Kids who receive Jumpstart funding can have a wide range of disabilities including non-physical limitations, such as learning disabilities, chronic physical limitations (heart disease, asthma, etc.) and speech conditions.
“We see the impact of physical activity in health and quality of life in adults both with and without disabilities. We are hoping our research will support children with disabilities to move off the bleachers and into the game,” adds Martin Ginis.
“The university is thrilled to partner with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities,” says Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal at UBC’s Okanagan Campus. “We have shared values on the importance of health, well-being, and creating opportunities for youth, regardless of background. I am personally delighted for Jumpstart’s first gift to arrive at the Okanagan campus of UBC, where Professor Martin Ginis and others are creating a cluster of research excellence in chronic disease prevention, physical activity participation, and cardiometabolic health. By enabling leading-edge research on physical activity for children and youth with disabilities, your gift will help inform future policy development, enhance health programs for Canadians, and, in turn, improve lives in communities across the country.”