Healthy Kids Community Challenge Themes

Run. Jump. Play. Everyday.

Theme I, Run. Jump. Play. Everyday., encourages physical activity through a mix of active play, active transporation, sports and structured physical activity.

Active play comes in many forms and varies with age. Active play is any unstructured, child-directed movement that children do for fun - playground games like tag, skipping or ball games for instance. The energy spent in play varies - it may be more or less vigorous than organized sports, but a child tends to do it longer, choosing for themselves when to rest. An it's not just great for a child's growing body - it has social and mental health benefits too.

Active transporation is any way tha children move from A to B using their own power. Besides walking and running, it includes things like biking, in-line skating and skateboarding.

Children who take part in some form of organized physical acitivity are more likely to meet Canada's physical activitiy guidelines. Ontario children in grades 1 to 8 are required to get at least 20 minutes of sustained moderate to vigourous daily physical activity each school day. Elementary and middle school students have physical education classes. Structured physical activities might also occur out of school, including participation in sports teams, martial arts and dance.

Why 'Run. Jump. Play. Everyday.'

Regular physical activity is so important for children's development, not just physical activity, but also socially and mentally. Being active can help children:

  • Improve cardiovascular fitness (heart and blood flow)
  • Build strong muscles and bones
  • Learn coordination, movement control and confidence
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Have less risk of chronic disease in later life
  • Improve self-esteem and have less depression, anxiety and emotional distress
  • Improve learning and attention span, and achieve more at school
  • Have more chances to express themselves, learn new skills and have fun
  • Build social skills suchas cooperation, respect for others, problem solving, athleticism, fair play and teamwork 


Water Does Wonders

Theme II, Water Does Wonders, encouragesfamiles to quench their thrist with water - the natiural and healthy choice.

Water is essential for good health. It is also a simple, convenient, and low-cost option for quenching thirst.

Our bodies are made up of approximately 60 per cent water. Wee need water for many vital bodily functions. We become dehydrated if we don't get enough water or other fluids. What is most important is that a person drinks enough fluids to quench their thirst and feel hydrated.

Water is an excellent choice of fluid as it has no calories, no sugar and is generally free and easily available. Before, during and after any physical activity, kids need to drink plenty of water, especially in hot and humid weather. When exercising, a good goal is to drink 1/2 to 2 cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are a concern for children's health. They can replace more nutritious choices and contribute extra calories and sugar to children's diets. Excess sugar intake is associated with other negative health outcomes such as an increased number of dental cavities, and among adults, an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How can families encourage kids to choose water?

  • Support healthy, whole food options - Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Teach kids that eating a piece of fruit or cut up vegetables is a better choice then reaching for juice.
  • Parent role models - when parents and caregivers make healthy drink choices like water, kids are more likely to follow. Community members and programs can also be important positive role models.
  • Develop healthy eating routines

Water Does Wonders Slideshow


Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit

Theme III, Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit, encourages kids and families to reach for more vegetables and fruit. Canada's Food Guide recommends children aged 2-13 years old eat 4-6 servings of veggies and fruit each day. 

Vegetables and fruit contain many nutrients that protect our health and fuel our bodies providing essential vitamins, minerals and fibre. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer andheart disease. This type of diet is also linked to healthy weights.

Canada's Food Guide recommends that children:

  • Eat a mix of different vegetables and fruit each day (eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day)
  • Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Try steamed, baked or stir-fried!
  • Have whole vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Fruit juice contains as much sugar and calories as soft drinks 

How can families choose to boost veggies and fruit at home?

  • Be a positive role model
  • Expose children to a variety of different vegetables and fruit when they are young
  • Eat Vegetables and Fruit with meals and snacks - plan meals around vegetables
  • Try new vegetables and fruit
  • Enjoy meals and snacks together away from the TV
  • Get kids involved
  • Think about starting a garden or participating in a community garden


Power Off and Play

Theme IIII, Power Off and Play, encourages children and families to build a balanced day that is not filled with screen time.

'Screen time' is the time spent using a screen-based device, such as a smartphone, tablet, computer or television. Not all screen time is unhelathy. Screens can offer an important way to learn and communicate at school and at work. Screens can also be used in an active way - like playing tennis, soccer, baseball or other sports games on a device.

More often, kids use screens for recreational purposes such as watching movies and playing games. They may be sitting, reclining or lying down the whole time they are on their screens. This is called sedentary screen time and many children are getting too much of it. This could interfere with and take time away from healthy activities in their day. It could even affect their health.

Our community is focusing on minimizing children's recreational and sedentary screen time, as part of a balanced day. It's all about powering off devices and playing more.

Why screen time matters

Screen time affects many aspects of children's health. Whilre research on screen time is still emerging, it suggests that screen time can harm children's early development and physical and psychosocail health.

  • Early development: Higher screen time is linked to poor brain development, language development and attention skills in the early years.
  • Physical health: Higher screen time is linked to lower levels of physical fitness, unhealthy weights and higher risk of cardio-metabolioc disease (e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin).
  • Psychosocial health: Higher screen time is linked to behavioural issues, lower self-esteem and lower phsychological well-being.


Healthy Kids Community Challenge Resources

Fact Sheet - Water Does Wonders

Fact Sheet - Water Does Wonders, Background & Evidence

Infographic - Water Does Wonders

Fact Sheet - Choose to boost veggies and fruit, Parents

Fact Sheet - Choose to boost veggies and fruit, Background & Evidence

Fruits & Vegetables in Season



SipSmart Flavoured Water Recipes

EatRight Ontario

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit