H&PE is Key to Preventing Illness and Chronic Disease
It seems that investment in health promotion and chronic disease prevention is top-of-mind in the province of Ontario, with various organizations publishing reports and recommendations for change in our healthcare system.
Over the past year, the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA) and its members, including Ophea, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division, have been leading the charge for additional investment in health promotion, first with the Let’s Make Ontario the Healthiest Province in Canada campaign, and more recently with the Better Health is Worth 0.5% campaign (www.healthiestprovince.ca).
This past week Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) and Public Health Ontario (PHO) released Taking Action to Prevent Chronic Disease: Recommendations for a Healthier Ontario, a report that contained 22 key recommendations aimed at addressing the high percentage of deaths in Ontario (79 percent) related to chronic but largely preventable illnesses.
Ophea was pleased to be engaged in the development of these recommendations, and supports the suggestions that it contains. Summarizing key areas of change or investment serves to give the province direction and guidance, and identifies areas where significant impact is possible.
It is clear, however, that many of the recommendations in this report look to build upon existing initiatives, policies and programs. In particular, the role of public education in enabling children and youth to value, participate and make a lifelong commitment to healthy active living is highlighted across a number of the recommendations. There is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that ensuring students receive quality Health and Physical Education instruction as a fundamental part of public education is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways of providing children with the knowledge and skills that will help them make safe and informed decisions now and into the future.
Quite simply, Ophea believes the revised Health and Physical Education curriculum is the most significant health promotion intervention the province has ever seen, emphasizing the importance of schools as a health promotion setting and directly reaching 2.1 million children and youth.
Recommendations made in the PHO/CCO report such as mandatory health and physical education in secondary school and including compulsory food skills in curricula necessitate an up-to-date Health and Physical Education curriculum, based on current practices and evidence, maintaining a scope and sequence of learning for Ontario students from K-12. Unfortunately, within Ontario efforts to update and revise this curriculum have stalled.
The first step to making Ontario the healthiest province in Canada, and to preventing chronic disease in the province, is to finalize the elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum, and release the secondary Health and Physical Education curriculum.
To learn more about why health and physical education is important, click here.