UBC Undergraduate Research

Identifying and Addressing Barriers That Have Resulted in a Lack of UBC REC Family Burian, Deb; Feldinger, Emma; Wallack, Brian; Wood, Rori


The purpose of this research study was to examine family recreation programs for promoting and encouraging family physical activity, and the role that UBC REC can play in providing those programs. First, a literature review was completed to determine what is already known about children’s physical activity (PA), the relationship of PA to their family life, and determine a gap in research that could be filled to better inform this subject. The research shows that children and adolescents have had declining levels of PA for decades. Children are not meeting daily or weekly guidelines for moderate to vigorous physical activity or incidental movement. A 2014 study for the Vancouver area confirmed this decline (van Loon et al., 2014). ParticipAction 2020 statistics show similarly low levels of PA have been further impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Studies show that parent’s support and encouragement, direct involvement, and their own PA, can have a positive impact on a child’s PA and ability to meet guidelines (Burgueno et al. 2020; Thompson et al. 2010). Conducive locations with park land and indoor facilities and safe outdoor spaces correlate with increased PA (van Loon et al., 2014). After identifying a gap in determining specifically what parents needed in order to get and keep their children physically active, a survey was designed to connect to UBC families and determine what they perceived to be their barriers. A 19 question Qualtrics survey was developed using the Health Belief Model as a guideline. UBC parents or ones who used UBC REC facilities were asked questions pertaining to the barriers they perceived in getting their child(ren) to participate in PA, and their self-efficacy of guiding their child(ren), and other questions designed to draw out what they needed in terms of type and timing of programs and other supports. The survey was distributed to the UBC Families Facebook page. There were 32 responses to the survey. The responses were analyzed through statistical analysis using JASP for the multiple choice and trend analysis for the short answers. Research has shown that parents are pressed for time. Work, commute, and daily chores take up much of their day with little time left for exercise and leisure pursuits. This was borne out in our survey with parents indicating that time was their biggest barrier and that the need for flexible recreational programming was high. Many parents did not feel that they were prepared to guide their child(ren) to appropriate levels of PA. These responses lead to the solution that UBC REC offer flexible, potentially drop-in, programming that is available weeknights and weekends that is suitable for a variety of ages and that activity can be structured to the group available at each session. Outdoor activity programs and parent-only training for implementation of child PA programs are also suggested. Child and adolescent PA continues to decline even as more parents are aware of its importance. What has been done to encourage sports team participation is not reversing this trend. A new approach is needed. Families that actively play together have been shown to have children with more PA and who develop intrinsic motivation. UBC REC programs that can promote family PA in a time frame that works for families, and also promote outdoor activity that can be done independently, may fill the parents’ needs. Health and welfare of Canada’s next generations will decline if PA levels for children and adolescents are not increased. Healthy PA levels as adults can be aided by learning and doing PA and developing intrinsic motivation as a child. Parents are the gatekeepers to family PA, and it is their support, involvement and encouragement that can turn around the current low levels of PA. However, they need supportive community systems that can help them obtain family PA in a safe and opportune manner. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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