Next summer parents and caregivers will be pulling their minivans up to a curb picking up their child from Day Camp and asking about their day. Fine mom! It was okay dad! Not a lot of information to work with. Do they like camp? Do they like their camp leader? Are they being bullied? Have they met any new friends? What are they learning? Are they having fun?
Many questions pass through a parents mind when they leave their children at summer camp. Are parents assuming that the camp program is quality? "Most parents know what a huge impact recreation and sport has on their child's well being. Yet they have little time to invest in choosing a good program, and struggle to find out what their child is experiencing in the programs they choose. Given how busy parents are it is so difficult to do the homework." Says Sharon May, President, Parks and Recreation Ontario.
Does quality matter? Do parents need to find the time and put in the extra effort to understand what their children are experiencing?
Dr. Dan Offord, a child psychiatrist and Director, Offord Centre for Child Studies and a member of the HIGH FIVE Strategic Advisory Council, says "When children play, they are developing the physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills they need to succeed in life. Sport and recreation programs are the most common ways children participate in organized play. Whether in a summer camp program, ballet, hockey or drama, a quality recreation program can help children learn new skills, feel good about themselves and make friends."
We can all reflect back on our childhood and recall our experiences in recreation and sport. Without question, we each have a story - one that is inspirational or all too often absolutely horrifying. Typically these experiences have shaped who we are today. How many of us never participated in that sport again or have been afraid of the outdoors or are convinced we cannot sing, draw or dance? "If recreation and sport programs have such a huge impact, as research clearly demonstrates and our own experience too often validates, it is fair to say that parents need to be much more concerned about quality" states May.
Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) know how hard parent's work and how difficult it is for them to determine if a program is quality. That is why PRO is giving parents a HIGH FIVE this summer! Over the course of the summer and fall, PRO is distributing, free of charge, 250,000 copies of a new newsletter called Quality at Play - The importance of quality in recreation and sport - a guide for parents.
Quality at Play introduces parents to HIGH FIVE, a Quality Assurance framework that offers a variety of resources parents can access for free at www.HIGHFIVE.org. By carefully choosing quality programs and talking to their children about what they are experiencing, parents can help ensure their children benefit from these experiences. "Quality at Play can make a tough job a little easier for parents" concludes May.
Quality at Play is being distributed free of charge through many HIGH FIVE member agencies, community health centres, Ontario early years centres and public health units. The newsletter can also be downloaded free at www.HIGHFIVE.org.
HIGH FIVE is a quality assurance framework designed to support the safety,
well-being and healthy development of children aged 6-12 in recreation
and sport programs. The HIGH FIVE vision is "Through sustained involvement
in Quality Recreation and Sport activities, all children aged 6 - 12 are
experiencing healthy development." HIGH FIVE members include municipalities,
YMCA's, YWCA's, Boys and Girls Clubs and sport organizations. The list
of member organizations is available at www.HIGHFIVE.org.
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