Helping Aboriginal Families Make Healthy Choices
Ontario Expanding Healthy Active Living Programs for Aboriginal Children and Youth
Ontario is helping more Aboriginal children, youth and their families adopt healthy lifestyles with programs that foster healthy eating and physical activity.
The province is doubling its support for three successful health promotion programs run by Aboriginal organizations and tailored to their unique cultural traditions and knowledge. The programs are:
- The Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Program, delivered by the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres.
- The Healthy Eating and Active Living program, delivered by the Aboriginal Health Access Centres.
- The Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program, through partnership with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association.
These programs provide Aboriginal communities with hands-on experience such as access to community kitchens and gardens, school and family-based healthy eating and physical activity programs, and recreational activities such as sport and dance, which incorporate traditional cultural practices.
Making it easier for Aboriginal children and youth to make healthy choices is a key component of the Healthy Kids Strategy and supports Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care. It is also part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow by focusing on Ontario's greatest strengths -- its people and its strategic partnerships.
- The government is investing $4.3 million to expand the healthy eating and active living programs, and another $2.2 million over four years to support the Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program.
- The Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Program has reached more than 10,000 people, including 3,800 children and youth since 2011.
- In 2012-13, more than 2,000 people participated in physical activity programs and over 500 people attended healthy eating activities delivered by the Aboriginal Health Access Centres.
- The Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program will double its reach to serve about 37,000 children. Almost one in five students in the area covered by the program is of Aboriginal descent.
- Childhood obesity prevalence rates are higher among Aboriginal populations: more than 40 per cent of Aboriginal children are overweight or obese.
“These programs empower Aboriginal people by incorporating traditional activities and knowledge to encourage healthy eating and physical activity. Promoting healthy lifestyles in a welcoming and culturally appropriate setting is helping to put Aboriginal children and youth on the path to lifelong health.”
“Our government recognizes that programs and services must be tailored to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal peoples. We are delighted to continue to work in partnership with Aboriginal service providers to deliver culturally appropriate health promotion services.”
“I’m thrilled that our government has expanded programs that encourage healthy eating and active living among Aboriginal youth. This will result in better lifestyle choices, and better overall health, for Aboriginal children in many communities across the province.”
“The Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Program has proven to be quite popular among our friendship centres. This expansion will give us the capacity we need to target youth.”
“We’re excited to have additional supports for our Healthy Eating and Active Living program. We will use this additional capacity to help our clients make healthy choices for their families in a way that is mindful of their traditional teachings.”