Drama Shield….ACTIVATE!

lazytownn

Did the holidays make you all lethargic and fat?  Did you spend all your time sitting on your lazy Auroran ass?

5 months prior to being turfed from office M.P.P. Lois Brown got up off of her own to declare: “The Town of Aurora has decided to draw a line in the sand and proclaim that they wish to become Canada’s most active community,”

That’s right, Aurora : Canada’s most active community.

The Auroran had an article on it that even states that this claim is no exaggeration.  I would say claiming to be the most active community is the textbook definition of exaggeration.

Brown follows up her empty words pursing her lips like a puckered dog’s bum to excrete this nugget: “Aurora is involving sports leaders, students, seniors, corporations…to help the entire town become physically fit, more active…”

That’s right, the entire town.  No couch potato left behind!

But before we even consider how achievable a goal that is, or how one could go about measuring the activity of every Canadian community equally to determine which one is actually the “most active” we need to read this Banner article from August 6th.

Sport Aurora’s president is quoted as saying:  “The big problem this world has is 80 per cent of children don’t develop the skills needed early on to competently or confidently join a team or organized sport,”

Wait a minute, the big problem this world has is that kids can’t join an organized sport?

Really?

Methinks the obstacles to children joining team sports globally may have a small part to do with large socio-economic and political issues, war, famine and disease.   Given that Aurora is an affluent town sheltered from these issues the real question is how is this big problem playing out in Aurora?

If you’re going to throw around numbers as though they are relevant then what is the percentage of Aurora’s children that suffer from this issue exactly?

Don’t have a number?  Why not?

I’m also skeptical about the claim “Many adults aren’t active for a number of reasons”.

Really?  Okay exactly how many adults in Aurora aren’t active?

Don’t have that statistic either?

It’s a useless goal to want to get everyone in the entire town active if a large percentage already are.  In order to make an outlandish claim that inactivity is a big problem in Aurora one should be able to point to a credible body of research to back it up.

I’m not seeing any, and it’s not like there’s a shortage of data to pull from.  Let’s start with Stats Canada findings from their 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey

A comparison of results from the 1996/1997 National Population Health Survey with those from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey shows that the proportion of Canadians in the 10 provinces who reported at least moderately active leisure time rose from 43% to 52%

Findings from the 2007 – 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey are included in this 2008 Physical Activity Monitor of the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute

In this document is mentioned that in 2003 a goal was set to increase levels of physical activity by 10 percentage points in each province and territory by 2010.  Figure 4 shows the gaps between 2007 – 2008 physical activity levels and these goals with Ontario stacking up in the middle but behind BC, Alberta and Manitoba.

Best Health Magazine rated Canada’s Healthiest Cities in 2008

In 2009 they did it again expanding into  16 different categories in order to find out how a total of 20 Canadian municipalities—two from each province—measured up

 

Stats Canada reports education and income are related to sports participation  Given that Aurora boasts itself as an afluent community with a well educated populace I would expect our level of sports participation when ranked nationaly to be on the high end.

Since moving here over 10 years ago I have not observed Aurora as a town drowning in slothfulness, yet in his July 28th column Somerville, the Auroran writer whose predictions are no more accurate than a dart-throwing chimpanzee, is all concerned about children’s lack of physical activity.

Somerville, who likely gets all his physical activity through having chills go down his spine, made this observation: “I don’t see any kids playing street hockey or any kids getting together to play baseball or football in the park anymore.”

Okay, so because kids aren’t playing hockey, baseball or football in a park when Somerville happens to be passing by they must be like what, munching Cheetos, pounding energy drinks and watching Netflix?

Given that the town of Aurora has so many recreational facilities, and heavily structured, or “organized” sports that are supposedly at capacity perhaps that is where a good percentage of the kids may be.

But that is something that doesn’t even enter Somerville’s mind, nope the conclusion he reaches is that there are more young couch potatoes today than when he was growing up.  Somerville sees the problem as free time which leads to children playing video games on the computer for countless hours.

Horrible unstructured, unorganized free time.  Could there be anything worse?

With 2 kids in school watching parents bounce around full schedules shuffling kids between dance, gymnastics, hockey, soccer, swimming and every other conceivable sport I fail to see how kids having free time is a problem.

Just how out of touch is Mr Somerville, well he does go on to suggest Martin Short and Jim Carrey as celebrity spokesmen to promote healthy and active lifestyles to our children?  Wow.   I think someone’s Mr. Rogers vest needs a couple buttons loosened.

Mr. Sommerville’s cries for desperation are distilled down in his closing line:  “Anything that can be used to encourage and promote healthy and active lifestyles for our children needs to be undertaken.”

Anything.

Not the right thing.

Just anything will do and that’s exactly what the 7 projects outlined in the August Banner piece reek of.  There’s unnecessary duplicity and are the complete opposite of anything innovative, let’s review:

1.) Play day  As the parent of a student in grade 4 I am unaware of my child’s school as one of the 5 participating in said event. So much for all this noise about including the entire town.

2.) Delivery of physical activity during the school day in all grades is already accomplished in the physical ed system.

3.) A 1 day summit.  Why Seneca College?  It isn’t even in Aurora. For a town wanting to boast being the most active are we saying with all of our leisure service facilities we are unable to host a simple throw-away event within our borders?

4.) Certified volunteers  Certified by whom, and for what reason? Is someone going around to these organizations checking for people delivering physical literacy and shutting them down because they are uncertified?

5.) For a Communication project, the aspect of communicating the methods and audience seem exceptionally vague. When I read that the communication project will seek the opinion of the general public on how to handle the problem of inactivity, I’m left to wonder why this wouldn’t have been done as the primary step to determine the level of inactivity this outfit is claiming.

6.) What schools do not offer a walking program? How exactly is it planned that a “culture” will be built given the variety of reasons and needs for traveling to and from school by bus and car?  Are we supposed to believe that this group is going to provide an ah-ha moment to parents and caregivers so they stop and rethink their commuting schedules?

7.) They saved the best for last : Healty eating You mean the thing that is hammered to death in schools, in advertising, pretty much everywhere? Is this group so sanctimonious that it honestly believes parents are ignorant as to how to provide appropriate nutrition for their children?
This program, unlike the millions that came before it, is going to be some magic nirvana that will suddenly result in healthy eating?

As for this fanciful notion of having ice rinks that lay dormant during the day be used by school kids how exactly is that going to work from a logistical standpoint? Am I to understand that kids over the entire town that are not in walking distance are going to be bussed to rinks in town and then back for free? By the time you add up travel time, suiting up, suiting down and traveling back how much time is left for any activity?

Time seems to be a huge factor here, and is touched on in a  2008 Multi-Purpose Recreation Complex Feasibility Study dmA consulting presented to the Township of Springwater.

Under Section 3.2.4 Leisure-time Deficit we read:

According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute’s 2002 Physical Activity Monitor survey, lack of time (75%), energy (64%) and motivation (62%) are the most frequently noted barriers to physical activity among Canadians. One of the primary complaints among Canadians regarding daily life is “not enough time”. Where one in ten respondents to a Canada-wide survey in 1991 worked 50 or more hours per week, one in four did in 2003.

High levels of role overload (having too much to do in a given amount of time) have become systemic within the population of employed Canadians, resulting in physical and mental health problems, high job stress, increased absenteeism due to ill health, and impaired family functioning.

The leisure-time deficit has led to greater interest in activities that can be pursued alone with relative ease around
more fixed time commitments.

It is less than surprising to learn that the 2005 Physical Activity and Sport Monitor found the three most popular physical activities among Canadian adults 20 years and older are walking for exercise, gardening/yard work and homeexercise. The three most popular activities among youth are walking for exercise, running/jogging and cycling. 

Note the absence of an “organized sport”.

Remember that 2009 Canada’s Healthiest Cities report.  Point 3 was on  Leisure time spent in active pursuits.

Charlottetown had been engaged in a provincial “Active Living Alliance” for over a decade as well as a provincial “Active Community” for 2 years. The manager of the city’s parks and recreation department says the city is adjusting its services to recognize residents’ busy lifestyles by moving away from structured programs to focusing on infrastructure that would encourage do-it-yourself physical activities.

I’m unconvinced that the big problem facing Aurora is our children not developing the skills needed early on to competently or confidently join a team or organized sport.

After reading Michael Traikos December 18th piece in the National Post I’m thinking a bigger problem may be al the parental pressure on children to compete and out perform.

Another big problem with organized sports is one-in-five Canadians saying they’ve suffered a concussion playing sports; most before turning 18.

Josh Levine, author of Save Our Game: What’s wrong with hockey training today and how to fix it reports that overuse injuries in sports have hit a record high.

Many doctors attribute this to the increasing intensity of organized youth sports. Often, young athletes are getting hurt before they have a chance to fully develop physically. 

And this pressure isn’t just taking its toll physically:

Many others are becoming so burnt out that they quit altogether. The hidden cost of year-round hockey is the untold number of athletes still playing but without a passion for the game.

The article has 60 comments, the first reads:

We have lost so much of play out of our childhoods. Playing is where we learn a lot of the social constructs of society. No wonder our world is becoming more competitive and win at all cost attitudes.

The very attitude rooted in the desire to become The most active community in Canada.

As a community Aurora is in neither lacking in ways to promote activity or competitiveness and Aurorans have never needed the title “most active community” to be healthy or whole.

This isn’t about drawing a line in the sand, it’s a senseless pissing match conceived by an unnecessary sports organization whose efforts are even more patronizing than watching an episode of LazyTown

 

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