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Physical activity in the school holidays - survey report

February 19 2013

Following the Term 3-4 school holidays in 2012 the invitation to complete a survey on children’s physical activities during the holidays was circulated. The results are a testament to how fortunate children growing up in New Zealand are to be able to engage in a huge range of indoor and outdoor activities in autumn months.

Forty eight people completed the survey; the majority (48%) reported having two, 25% three, 15% one, 10% four and 8% more than four children or grandchildren. Most children (28) were primary school age with 24 preschool age children, 13 intermediate school age children, and another 13 secondary school age children recorded. Of these 78 children 13 attended school holiday programmes where they engaged in physical activities such as swimming, kapa haka, outdoor sports, dancing, running, ten pin bowling, horse riding, scooting, fencing, mini golf, rock climbing and playing indoors and outdoors.

Forty parents, grandparents, relatives or friends encouraged children to engage in a large range of activities. The most common being walking, swimming, biking and ball games, followed by running, going to playgrounds and jumping on the trampoline. Other activities included tree climbing, skating, scooting, shifting fire wood, mowing lawns, kite flying, and outdoor experiences such as going to beaches, farms, tramping, camping and exploratory and imaginative play.

Respondents were asked what activities they most enjoyed as a child and they indicated that swimming was their most popular followed by playground activities, ball sports, dancing, walking, running, skating and gymnastics. Other activities they enjoyed included – skiing, horse riding, exploring, bush walks and one reported ‘riding a big ‘cotton reel’ down to the bottom of the garden’, another farm activities and helping parents and only one, compared to the 6 children/grandchildren, mentioned jumping on a trampoline.

They reported that their children’s/grandchildren’s preferred activities are trampolines/ jumping on the couch, scooting, organised sports, kayaking, canoeing, Wii, iPod fitness, pig hunting, fishing, gym workouts, triathlons, athletics, touch rugby and cheerleading.

Encouragingly 81% of respondents thought their children/grandchildren were active enough and 68% encouraged their children by being good role models. Twenty seven per cent encouraged children by providing opportunities, either with where they lived or by going places (eg playgrounds, beaches, parks), having equipment (eg, bikes, trampolines etc.), or paying for children to attend classes or organised sports. They also stated that some children always prefer being active, some needed encouragement, and some needed to be nagged.

Fifty four per cent of parents/grandparents considered there were no barriers to children being physically active however of the other 46 % the barriers they listed included costs lack of time due to the needs of younger siblings and work commitments. Safety concerns, lack of transport and access to venues were also listed as barriers. Five of the 22 respondents considered technology interfered with children’s desire to be active.

Thank you for completing the survey. We hope you find these results as interesting as we did.

Parents Voice Advisory Committee 2013

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