UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mandating action : high school students' perceptions of a school-based physical activity policy De Lisio, Ester Elizabeth Amanda


This research evaluated the impact of a provincial school-based health requirement on the student recipient. It will start with an outline of the (somewhat) recent trend to incorporate public health policies within a school environment in Canada and specific to British Columbia. Particular attention will focus upon the political context and the announcement of several provincial school health policies after the 2010 Winter Olympic/Paralympic bid. Recent school policies in the province of British Columbia include the mandate to eliminate certain cafeteria food (September 2005) and to prohibit tobacco use on school properties (September 2007). This thesis however will focus upon Daily Physical Activity (September 2008) – the requirement that all children in the province (K-12) must participate in moderate to vigorous physical activities (150 minute period per week). The intention of the research was to compare and contrast the official stories (told within provincial documentation) to that of the unofficial stories from a particular student population. Data collection was dependent upon (i) a critical review of relevant provincial documentation as well as (ii) the semi-structured interview process with a senior student population (n=14) at Terry Fox Secondary School (Coquitlam, School District 71). The combination of these two qualitative methodologies revealed (i) the student definition and approach to participation in physical activities; (ii) use of online technologies to monitor participation; (iii) the differentiation between participation in physical education, sport and physical activities; (iv) the continual emphasis on appearance to define health; and (v) the need to discuss alternative possibilities to tackle health in school. Data from each theme will be discussed with respect to the need to better articulate the relationship between the latest school-based health policies and the historical inclusion of a physical and health education curriculum within an academic domain. It will use the advice from a student audience to emphasize the basic purpose of existent curricula to educate (as oppose to mandate) people to lead a healthier life.

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