Why can’t the U.S. Federal Government see the need to get children physically active for better health and reduced healthcare costs like our friends from the north?
It was just announced in the Canadian province of Quebec that residents are not trying to ask or answer the $64 million question. Instead, they are focused on reaping the dividends on a long-term $64 million investment – which is improving the fitness levels of its children. This is in addition to $500 million which has been approved by the Quebec government for similar physical activity programs.
Right now, children in Quebec are not as physically fit and active as they should be, need to be, and, eventually, will be. Just as there’s an ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ throughout the U.S., too many youngsters in Quebec are simply physically inactive, as well. That’s unacceptable to local government officials who are seeking transformation with their youngsters and are willing to put their money where their mouth is in order to generate change.
In a recent story in Global News, it was revealed that the Quebec government is ready to invest $64 million in a plan to get its younger residents more physically active and, as a result, more physically fit. The goal is clear: increase, by 20 percent, the number of 6-to-17 years old who are physically active at least 60 minutes a day. Right now, only 59 percent of 6-to-17 year old youngsters are physically active for 60 minutes a day. The goal is to get at least 79 percent of its children, who attend the more than 450 schools, physically active for 60 minutes a day within the next ten years. This overall fitness initiative is also aimed at increasing the number of physically active adults by 10 percent by 2027.
Quite simply, the Quebec government realizes that in order to successfully teach these life-long fitness lessons, it needs to reach people at an impressionable age – when they are young.
“Behavior changes, you have to start them sooner,” says Sebastian Prouix, Minister of Education for Quebec, who was quoted in the Global News story.
But, it will take some additional funding to help achieve the goal of getting more youngsters in Quebec physically active, fit, and playing sports.
To that end, more than $500 million has been set aside by the Quebec government to invest in improving the quantity and quality of its local sports complexes – fields, courts, diamonds, pitches, pools, tracks, and more. The locals will definitely reap the dividends of getting access to such fine sports and fitness facilities.
“Through sport, I was able to become a better and more accomplished person and so I want to invite those young people to start moving, whatever their passion is,” says Canadian Olympic soccer silver medalist Josee Belanger, in the Global News story.
The other interesting fitness news in Quebec comes from the medical community. Many Canadians who visit their doctor in Quebec with health and medical issues are going home with a unique prescription: written instructions to exercise.
Nearly 9,000 general practitioners in Quebec have new prescription pads which were produced for exercise and physical activity prescriptions.
"Doctors are showing that they take this seriously," says Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute. "It's not just advice. This way, it's a medical prescription.”
Leaders in Quebec are not alone in their focus on sports and fitness. This approach to being physically active in Canada is national in scope and called ParticiPACTION, which is geared at encouraging all Canadians to sit less and to making sure that moving is a national priority. With ParticiPACTION, Canadians are encouraged to participate in all 150 sports, track their progress in each pursuit, and possibly win great prizes.
"In Canada, sports and fitness are a way of life and not a career path," says Sally Ann Reiss, CEO/Founder, PlayyOn.com, a mobile and web sport app that enables the athletic community to manage their sport activities effortlessly. "In Canada, sports are part of the national culture and it's something that governments support and promote as part of their social responsibility to the country."
“Why is it that a country as small as Canada has figured out that the solution to decreasing health care costs is to PREVENT healthcare costs," says Jim Baugh Founder of PHIT America. "We really don't have a healthcare system...it is a sick care system. We keep coming up with new surgeries, pills and insurance plans to treat sick people but this is not fixing the issue. We must invest in programs that will stimulate its people to become physically active and healthy! The best way to combat rising health care costs is through prevention. A physically active and fit America is a healthy America...resulting in fewer healthcare costs.”
The Canadian approach of investing in children through sports and fitness is in sync with the thinking of PHIT America, which is in the midst of its third year of distributing PHIT America GO! Grants to elementary school P.E. programs in order to help them expand and improve the quality of their P.E. programs for their students.
Companies or individuals interested in supporting the PHIT America 'Movement' and programs should contact Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America, a 501(c)(3) charity. PHIT America is getting kids 'off the couch' and active through efficient school-based physical activity programs. PHIT America, through its 501(c)(4) corporation is also pushing to pass the PHIT Act, which will allow Americans to use pre-tax medical accounts (FSA's & HSA's) for physical activity expenses.