Researchers from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have been involved in the development of Ireland’s first Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth which was launched in Toronto, Canada today.
The Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth is a means of collating all data related to children’s physical activity levels in a particular country and ‘grading’ the evidence using a grading system just like a school report card, i.e. A to F or inconclusive/incomplete if there are not enough data available yet.
Dr. Niamh Murphy from the Centre for Health Behaviour Research in the Department of Health Sport and Exercise Science in WIT was a member of the 12 researcher team from both the Republic and Northern Ireland that has developed the Report Card for Ireland.
According to Dr. Murphy, “Physical inactivity is as important a risk factor for health as any other risk factor, such as smoking or high cholesterol, and yet our investment in promoting physical activity in Ireland falls short.”
Children scored poorly on physical activity participation, and sedentary behaviour. According to the data from all over Ireland, Ireland scores a D minus on overall physical activity levels with between 12% and 43% of children doing enough physical activity.
The Centre for Health Behaviour is actively involved in researching these behaviours in the population, and in designing interventions in schools and communities to change behaviour. Children scored a D on active transportation, which is an area that members of the Department in WIT have been evaluating in Kilkenny and Dungarvan for the last number of years.
“We need, in particular, to ensure that our children are given the opportunity to lead physically active lifestyles, and monitoring our performance in providing access to physical education, and community based physical activity options is an important step.” continued Dr Murphy. “This first Report Card will act as a baseline for surveillance of physical activity promotion efforts and ensure that any changes are captured.”
The Report Card is a vital tool for practitioners and policy makers to identify key needs and gaps, allocate funds, and develop activity promotion initiatives.
The work was chaired by Dr Deirdre Harrington, an Irish academic based in the University of Leicester, UK. Dr Harrington said, “By highlighting indicators that ‘could do better’, we are saying that investment and policy needs to be developed.”
The Report Card was launched in Toronto Canada on May 20th along with 14 other countries from around the world.
Dr Harrington added, “The Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has been an effective tool in ‘powering the movement to get kids moving’ by influencing priorities, policies and practice in Canada for the last nine years.
“Now a further 14 countries from around the globe who have replicated the Report Card process will present their Report Cards at the Global Summit on Physical Activity of Children in Toronto. Ireland will join Scotland and the US, who have already launched their Report Cards, and England in contributing to the Global Matrix of Report Card grades.”
Full copies of the short-form and long-form Report Card can be found at http://www.getirelandactive.