Canadian kids’ lack of physical activity prompts “Bring Back Play” campaign

October 03, 2012  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

In a world governed by schedules, videogames and an emphasis on safety, child’s play is no longer, well, child’s play.

A recent report from Active Healthy Kids Canada bearing the ominous title “Is Active Play Extinct?” found that less than half (46%) of Canadian kids get three hours or less of play per week, and that 63% of kids’ after-school time – including weekends – is spent being sedentary.

For the sixth straight year, the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card gave Canadian kids an F in its core “physical activity levels” grade, noting that a mere 7% of children and youth are meeting established guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Canadian kids also scored an F in the “screen-based sedentary behaviours” category, with the report noting that children and youth currently get an average of seven hours and 48 minutes of screen time per day.

The report card said only 19% of kids and youth aged 10 to 16 report meeting Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, which recommend no more than two hours of recreational screen time per day.

In response, ParticipAction, Canada’s national voice of physical activity and sports participation, soft-launched launched a new “Bring Back Play” campaign on Monday that’s aimed at inspiring the parents and caregivers of children aged five to 12 to motivate children to engage in more physical activity.

Created by JWT, the integrated campaign – which officially launches Oct. 9 – includes a national English and French 30-second TV spot that will air through March 2014, digital banner ads, print ads, a website ( and social media and a web-based app developed by Hambly & Woolley that is optimized for mobile use.

Media for the campaign was handled by Cossette Media, which took over the account from Mindshare earlier this year.

The spots were produced by Radke Films’ POV Alumni Working Group, which works to provide young talent with the skills and experience required to break into the film business.

The app provides the rules and instructions for 25 children’s games that today’s moms and caregivers played when they were young, such as Musical Chairs and Capture the Flag. It also invites users to share their own games.

The TV spot features scenes of kids engaged in activities such as bike riding and Hide-and-Seek, and urges viewers to give them 60 minutes a day of the type of physical activity “that kept us happy and healthy when we were kids.”

“The world is different today, but we want to play on moms’ feelings of nostalgia and bring back play for their children just as they experienced it when they were kids,” said ParticipACTION president and CEO Kelly Muruments, who called play and physical activity a “magic elixir” that can lead to not only improved physical health but better self-esteem and academic performance.

Murumets said while Canadians tend to regard themselves as active and outdoorsy, we rank behind other OECD nations like Northern Europe and Australia when it comes to activity levels.

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