The Home Stretch
I used to lie about having my homework done, that’s the straight and narrow of it.
Did my parents know about it? I’m sure they did sometimes, but because I was lying to get outside to play basketball, ball hockey, soccer, baseball or any physical activity I could. I don’t know if that completely bothered them. At least I wasn't working my thumbs playing video games.
Nowadays I know I’m definitely not as physically active as I used to be then, but I’ll just attribute that to getting slightly older. One thing that does shock me though is how in the last generation things have completely changed.
Around the province there are a number of overgrown fields, which you can partially attribute to a decline or shift in population, but at the same time I think it has to do with the decline in the number of kids or youth who are getting outdoors in their free time. This isn’t an all-encompassing blanket, but overall it seems that it’s easier to pick up a smart phone, video game controller, iPod or watch TV, than get outdoors.
Recently Canada received an overall D– on Active Healthy Kids Canada annual report card, which gives a snapshot of where we stand against 14 other countries.
Our best grade came in the community and the built environment category (sports facilities, parks, etc.), a B+, which was only lower than Australia’s A–.
We received a number of grades in the C or C+ range, which includes the school, government strategies and investments, and organized sport participation categories.
It also included a C in the family and peers categories. A few weeks ago the Joe Earle Memorial Day Road Races were held in Trenton and soon afterward I discussed the importance of having a family atmosphere for physical activity. This grade for us as a nation is great compared to a number of countries, but there is still work to be done.
Family inclusion helps create a culture for the kids because the parents are involved as opposed to just saying, “get outside and play.” Monday night at Stellarton’s town council meeting a community group spoke about wanting to create a community garden. This isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when people think of a physical activity, but it’s a great way to have young and old out in the fresh air working at something.
That’s the way it needs to be overall in this society. There needs to be a passion to be physical. Simply telling someone to do it because they “have” to doesn’t result in a change.
One of our lowest grades, although it wasn’t the F in sedentary behaviours or incomplete in active play, was a D in active transportation. Unfortunately our country wasn’t built for people, it was built for vehicles. Yes, there are ways to get around portions of our country without hoping on a highway, but for the most part our cities are designed around our vehicles.
This is slowly changing as groups are working on projects like the Trans Canada Trail throughout our country, especially here in Pictou County. Also in the county, we have active transportation advocates like Rae Gunn with Active Pictou County who is challenging councils here to seriously look at active transportation.
Most recently at county council they announced they were working with Gunn to prepare an application for Nova Scotia Moves. This funding would study possible costs and solutions to creating a pedestrian or bike crossing on Westville Road between Highland Square Mall and the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
Currently there is infrastructure on both sides of the highway, but the narrow space under the overpass doesn’t have any user-friendly space for walking or biking.
It’s projects like this that will give us a higher grade on the infrastructure side of things, but ultimately if we want to be active we need to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and just get out and do it.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NGNewsChris. His column runs weekly on Wednesdays.