Drawing the Line Between Acceptable and Unacceptable Risks for Active Play

An excellent session at the Global Summit on Physical Activity of Children. Dr. Ian Janssen pointed out that if we keep our kids inside “out of danger” they are not going to be sufficiently active for healthy development. There is a disconnect between the true extent of risk and what parents and caregivers perceive as risk. While parents believe the world and their own neighbourhoods are becoming less safe, statistics show that in fact the opposite is true.

Childhood injuries have been reduced almost by half since 1990, and the leading cause of injury is car accidents - not to pedestrians or cyclists - but to passengers in the car. The vast majority of injuries to kids while being active happen during organized sports, where there are rules and supervision, rather than during unstructured, unsupervised play.

Dr. Will Pickett, injury prevention expert says we all need to take a deep breath and be as concerned about the risks of stifling opportunities for healthy growth and development and physical activity. He proposes a definition of an acceptable injury as non-intentional, non-severe, occurring during a health generating activity in a normal situation with adherence to known prevention measures. He says we need to think holistically and look at health promotion for the whole child rather than simply at injury prevention. This is an ancient concept as well as having roots in indigenous culture.

The session reinforced a conference theme that multiple sectors need to work together from multiple directions to solve the physical inactivity crisis.

Sue Scott, Cardel Place in Calgary, told a story of of facing off against the local health authority regarding a play structure at the community centre - and winning - mostly.

Watch for the presentations online at Active Healthy Kids Canada in the future - you'll want to look at the slides!