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Recreation and Education

Poverty can limit a child’s ability to learn and a parents’ ability to provide guidance.  At school, poverty can lead to poor concentration, lower motivation, higher stress, lower achievement, difficult behavior and poor attendance. [18] 

Recreation activities for children are a vital method of learning.  Through play and participation in recreational activities, children are able to gain a sense of mastery, develop positive self esteem, further develop their creativity, enhance their social skills and explore and manipulate their environment. [19][20]

In 2000, it was estimated that over half of children age 5 to 17 years did not meet the recommended levels of physical activity. [21] 

Despite the knowledge that recreation is a vital component of a child’s life, there is a divide in Canada between those who participate in recreational programs and those who do not. [20][22]

Competence in sports and arts can act as a protective factor for children against emotional and behavioral problems. [19]

For every dollar that is invested in physical activity, there is a long-term savings of $11 in health care costs. [21]

Source: Health Canada website and Media Photo Gallery, Health Canada, Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2006.

Recreation, arts and cultural activities

Barriers to participation [23][24][25][26]

Benefits of participation  [22][27][28][29]


 Increase interactions with adults and peers

 High costs of supervised sports/equipment

 Decreased stress and anxiety


 Increased self-esteem

 Neighborhood Safety

 Enhanced social and life skills

 Lack of role models for girls

 Enhanced familial relationships


 Improved school performance

 Lack of parent support



18. Canadian School Boards Association, 1997, pg. 3, 14

19. Offord, D., Lipman, E., Duku, E. (1998). Which children don’t participate in sports, the arts and community programs? Human Resources Development Canada.

20. Couchman, B. (March 2002). From precious resource to societal accessory: Canada’s children six to twelve years of age. National Children’s Agenda.

21. Singer, R. (April 2003). The impact of poverty on the health of children and youth. Campaign 2000.

22. Donnelly, P., Coakley, J. (December 2002). The Role of Recreation in Promoting Social Inclusion. Toronto: Laidlaw Foundation.

23. Benson, P. (1997). All kids are our kids: What communities must do to raise caring and responsible children and adolescents. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

24. Walker, D. (Spring 2001). Child’s play: a vital ingredient for health. Perception, 24, (4) Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development, 3-5.

25. Hanvey, L. (2001). Access to recreation programs in Canada. Perception 24, (4) Canadian Council on Social Development.

26. Canadian Parks and Recreation Association. Impact and benefits of physical activity and recreation on Canadian youth-at-risk.

27. Barnett, L. (1990). Developmental benefits of play for children. , Journal of Leisure Research, 22 (2), 138-153.

28. Government of Canada (April 2004). A Canada fit for children. Ottawa:Author.

29. Nieman, P. (May/June 2002). Psychological aspects of physical activity. Paediatric Child Health, 7 (5), 309-311.

All references for this section