The University of Calgary is conducting a pilot program geared at getting kids to exercise outside of a structured environment.

Cardel place has partnered with the U of C to launch the Physical Activity Challenge for Kids or PACK program.

The initiative hopes to educate children about exercise and motivate them to get moving outside of the classroom.

Kids at St. Elizabeth Seton School were chosen to take part in the 30-day challenge which is based on the work of Kinesiology researcher Larry Katz, PhD.

Katz’ work uses tools and technology to make children aware of their activity level and to encourage them to do more. 

Cardel Place partnered with the University of Calgary on the project as part of its Raise the Bar for Healthier Generations mission. ”It was a natural fit for us,” says Graham Thomson, Manager of Child and Youth programs at Cardel Place, “We came to Dr. Katz with the idea of creating a challenge program, and we liked his approach for getting kids to think about physical activity as something you should do all the time, not just at gym time. Whether you are at home, at school, at a neighbourhood park, or a public recreation centre, it’s important to build active play into every day.  It doesn’t matter where you’re active, it just matters that you are active.” 

The grade four students participated in a workshop on the many ways they could be active and also learned what light, moderate and vigorous exercise feels like.

They were asked to track their activity by filling out log sheets and wearing pedometers. They also made note of who they were active with and how hard they were exercising.

The activities were recorded on a daily basis on a computer tablet which allowed them to compile a snap-shot of their weekly activity levels. 

“We live in an age where kids are almost never told to just ‘get outside and play,’ ” says Katz. “As a result exercise has become a structured activity that you do at school with gym teachers or sports teams. This challenge was created to try to change kids’ attitudes towards exercise, and to get them thinking about being more active at home, at recess and even when they’re in the classroom.” 

The Calgary Foundation, Cardel Place and the University of Calgary are sharing the cost of the program.

For more information on the “Moving” Beyond Gym Class program, visit the University of Calgary Kinesiology website.