Back to school doesn’t just mean dusting off textbooks. For kids, it’s also about staying active and learning healthy lifestyles.
In Saskatchewan, 29 per cent of children aged 2 to 17 years are overweight or obese, according to the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care. Teaching healthy lifestyles to kids is a priority for many programs and charities. Saskatchewan Blue Cross is proud to back them up, as part of the 200 charities it supports across the province. Since 2011, Saskatchewan Blue Cross has been the title sponsor for Recess Guardians, an innovative program that teaches kids how to lead through play. Many kids are used to playing structured sport and being told what to do. Recess Guardians flips the script, getting kids to make all the decisions.
It starts in the classroom where volunteers teach students a set of games. That class then breaks up into teams and teaches the games to a younger grade.
The aim is to bring back play, promote creativity and self-development and empower youth leaders.
Among participants, the program has reported a decrease in bullying on the playground, better teamwork among students, more interest in physical activity and improved performance in the classroom.
Saskatchewan Blue Cross’s support has allowed Recess Guardians to expand across the province, diversify its programs and bring in more volunteers to over 200 schools.
The program is targeting 300 schools by 2020, while remaining free and accessible.
But kids often can’t get all their exercise at school. According to national guidelines, kids needs at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
Saskatchewan parents looking for at-home activities can turn to Push2Play. It features fun and accessible games — such as Beach Towel Toss and Flashlight Tag — in an easy-to-use online finder.
Saskatchewan in motion also encourages kids to get moving. Its 30-30-30 model calls for 30 minutes of daily activity at home, school and in the community.
Schools, communities and organizations can all sign up to join the in motion movement.
Nutrition is just as important as staying active, which is why the Saskatchewan Blue Cross has supported the MEND program since 2012.
MEND, which stands for Mind, Exercise Nutrition, Do It!, is a free lifestyle program that teaches families about nutrition and behaviour-change principles.
Families take part in group sessions that show how small changes can make a big difference. Kids are taught to make healthier food choices and the importance of staying active.
There are even more wellness programs in the province for parents and kids. How can you find them? Just look for the new Saskatchewan Blue Cross heart icon. When you spot it, you can be confident that the initiative is a worthy, health-and-wellness cause supported by Saskatchewan Blue Cross. And remember, you can always show your support by donating, volunteering your time or resources — or simply giving participants a high five.