The provincially representative survey, which included more than 600 parents of school-aged children across the province, found that obesity (37%) and mental health (32%) were identified as the top health issues facing Ontario children. Concerns have risen significantly about mental health (increase of 22 points) and addiction (increase of 9 points) since Ophea’s last survey in 2010. Today, most parents (79%) believe that the H&PE curriculum helps to address these concerns.
“Ontario schools have an important role to play in the health and well-being of our children, whether it is physical activity, health education, addressing mental health issues, or discussing diet and nutrition,” said Chris Markham, Executive Director and CEO of Ophea. “Though the majority of parents are satisfied with the Health and Physical Education offered at school, we see that there are concerns about the minimal amount of time dedicated to these programs. We should be challenging ourselves to ensure this is a priority.”
In 2014, the Ontario government committed to encouraging 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children, and the current survey found that 99 percent of parents strongly agree about the importance of this goal. Most parents (89%) also agree that schools have a critical role to ensure children are physically active during the regular school day. However, it was found that only one-quarter of parents (26%) report that their children are active to that standard, and the reported level of physical activity declines as the age of the child increases.
“Beyond health professionals and themselves, parents see teachers as the most trusted source of health information for their children,” says Lori Lukinuk, President of Ophea’s Board of Directors. “We call upon education partners to work with Ophea to support our schools to continue to be healthy schools – accepting and caring about physical safety and encouraging involvement amongst all students.”
Ophea remains committed to working with school boards, government and non-governmental organizations, as well as private sector organizations, to ensure the health of Ontario school-aged children is top-of-mind. For more information, including the full survey report and infographic highlights, visit www.ophea.net/advocacy.
About the survey
Environics Research conducted an online survey of 651 Ontario-based parents of school-aged children between October 23 and 31, 2017.
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