CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - July 20, 2016) - Studies have shown that when children are outside they move more, sit less and play longer. Vivo for Healthier Generations in partnership with Mount Royal University recently asked the question if parks within Vivo's surrounding areas meet the community's need to provide spaces for active play opportunities. A scientific observation of nine parks in three North Central Calgary neighbourhoods was conducted using the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC). This method of momentary time sampling was chosen in order to gain insight into the use of each park.
The study examined the role played by the physical design and layout of the park, the location and accessibility of the park within the neighbourhood, as well as factors such as the proximity of schools. With the community serving as a test bed to provide important evidence, the baseline results of the study have reinforced the need to develop strategies to increase usage of outdoor spaces and have been used to inform Vivo's development of the popular Play Ambassador Program.
The decline in active play in recent years, especially outdoors, is one of the biggest factors contributing to kids continued failing grades for physical activity. Play is a social activity that increases children, youth and families' connection to their neighbours. Not feeling connected enough to their community, especially through play, is a prominent theme of recent community engagement discussions conducted by Vivo.
Vivo's Play Ambassador program was born out of a desire to help shift the needle by supporting families through play education and unstructured play provision both inside Vivo's walls and out in the community. A proud partner of the Lawson Foundation's Outdoor Play Strategy this program is part of a series of projects selected to inform learning about how to support Canadian communities to increase children's opportunities for spontaneous outdoor play.
"We believe that through play our communities are safer, healthier and more connected", says Matt Leung, Team Lead of Active Play at Vivo. "The Play Ambassador program is designed to work together with the community to build capacity to engage in spontaneous play as a way to be active in their own back yards, cul-de-sacs and local parks and increase opportunities for the whole family to make play a part of their daily lives."
To-date in summer 2016 the Play Ambassadors have hosted 11 Taste of Play events engaging with hundreds of families and educating parents, youth and community members about the importance of unstructured play -- and the movement is growing. One parent expressed how excited she was that the program enabled her children to have the opportunity to make friends and build connections while getting healthy and enjoying the outdoors. She then proceeded to advocate in Mandarin on behalf of the play program to several other families present in the park.
The Play Ambassadors will be sparking Random Acts of Play at neighbourhood parks and events throughout the summer. To view the Play Ambassador's full schedule visit www.vivo.ca.
Vivo is on a mission to raise healthier generations in Calgary, and beyond. We're a self-sustaining charity committed to pioneering solutions to get all Canadians moving more, sitting less and connecting with their communities. Our roots are in north-central Calgary where we operate a leading regional recreation centre.