Healthy kids community challenge


The City of Kitchener is proud to participate in the Region of Waterloo's Healthy Kids Community Challenge to support the well-being of our children, and to help create communities in which it is easy for children to lead healthier lives.

There are 45 municipalities across Ontario taking part in this challenge as part of Ontario's healthy kids strategy. Each city has chosen a different way to reach kids in their community and promote Ontario's healthy kids community challenge, sharing the same overall goals of:

  • reducing childhood obesity and achieve healthier weights among children 0-12 years old.
  • improving healthy behaviours among children related to healthy eating and physical activity.
  • increasing community collaboration and coordination on childhood obesity prevention and reduction, including the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

To help make this happen, the City of Kitchener has chosen to use their funds to support getting kids active through four themes.

Theme one: Run. Jump. Play. Every day.

The first theme of the challenge was, Run. Jump. Play. Every Day (2015-2016). This theme encouraged physical activity through a mix of active play, sport, active transportation, and structured activities. Any form of regular movement is physical activity. Children should be physically active daily as part of play, games, sports, transportation, recreation, physical education, or planned exercise activities.

To help children and families become more physically active, community partners came together to plan activities like creating trail walking and cycling programs, offering physical activity and self-esteem workshops, and building pop-up playground environments.

Theme two: Water does wonders

The second theme of the challenge was, Water Does Wonders (2016-2017). This theme encouraged children and families to choose water, instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, to satisfy their thirst. Water is the most natural, healthy, and affordable beverage choice for children and families.

To help children and families easily find drinking water in the community, over 100 new hydration stations were funded for recreation centres, child care centres, elementary schools, neighbourhood associations, and other community sites.

Theme three: Choose to boost veggies and fruit

The third theme of the challenge was, Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit (2017-2018). This theme encourages children and families to include vegetables or fruit in every meal and snack in order to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Our community will support children and families in making healthy food choices through a number of activities, including:

  • building community gardens and food hedges ("fedges") to engage children, families, and educators in growing fruits and vegetables, and to improve access to local produce.
  • offering opportunities to develop food skills (e.g. grocery store tours) by focusing on choosing and making meals with vegetables and fruits.
  • presenting live theatre performances to educate children on the benefits of eating vegetables or fruit at each meal.
  • researching local food distribution that connects local growers, farmers' markets, and people in need.

Learn more about theme three including tips and strategies.

Theme four: Power off and play

The fourth theme of the challenge is, Power Off and Play (2018-2019). This theme encourages parents and children to limit recreational and sedentary screen time by promoting four key messages: stay within the recommended screen time limits, put screens away during important times of the day, replace screen time with other activities and apply for a community engagement opportunity that promotes screen time recommendations along with physical activity, healthy eating and/or literacy.

Our community will support children and families in reducing screen time through a number of activities, including:

  • educating the community and creating awareness around the importance of limiting screen time.
  • presenting live theatre performances to educate parents and children on the benefits of reducing screen time.
  • offering no-cost or low-cost recreational and active play alternative options such as: school skates, swim to survive, public skating, pop-up playgrounds and Huron Natural Area field trips.

School and neighbourhood programming

Schools and community centres have some amazing programs in place for children, and an opportunity to engage children in active play every day. We have created a toolkit that will be provided to teachers, neighbourhood associations and groups that work with children, to promote active play and enhance existing programs.

The toolkit is being modelled after the City of Calgary Be Fit for Life cards, and distributed to partners who can put them into action. The City of Kitchener's toolkit is also available. View the downloadable PDF and help get kids moving today!

For more information about the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, please visit the Waterloo Region's website, or email us to learn more.

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