YHP CANADA – At My Best and the YCRH
Phase I 2012 – 2016; Phase II 2016 - 2020
The local context
In Canada non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes were estimated to account for 88% of the country's deaths in 2018.1
In 2007 Reaching for the Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth, commissioned by the national Government of Canada, identified that the country was slipping behind its peers on key health indicators for children and youth, reporting that it ranked 12th out of 21 wealthy countries in the United Nation’s rankings on child well-being.
Encourage healthy living habits from an early age.
Healthy diet, exercise and emotional well-being of young people from kindergarten to grade 6.
Developing relationships with people and organisations involved in youth health issues.
Improving Canadian youth health education nationwide.
Creating, and building awareness of, independent youth-centred initiatives and policy proposals on injury prevention, mental health, growing healthy bodies, and the environment.
At My Best
At My Best® was co-founded by AstraZeneca Canada and Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada in 2008. The programme takes a three-pronged approach to health promotion combining physical activity, healthy eating, and emotional wellbeing.
The development of the programme involved elementary teachers, secondary teachers, physical education professors, family counsellors, vice principals, public health nurses, early childhood educators and health promoters; bringing expertise in physical education, health education, nutrition and children’s wellness..
The K-3 program (junior kindergarten to grade 3 used an emotional ABC theme (Ability; Belonging; Caring) to encourage students to recognise their ability, be inclusive and involve others, and hold respect and consideration for themselves and others.
The program included a culminating event called At My Best Play Day, designed to celebrate healthy living, as well as participation in the programme. The day was dedicated to fun activities that could involve a whole school community.
The popularity of At My Best K-3 led to the development of AMB 4-5-6 which uses an I-We-Us theme (Individual ability; Belonging to a team, class or group; Developing citizenship skills).
Young Canadians Roundtable on Health
YCRH’s 30 volunteer members represent youth between the ages of 15 and 30 from across Canada on a wide range of health and well-being issues. For geographic reasons most YCRH meetings are virtual, although they meet face-to-face as working groups once a year at the Annual Summit of the Sandbox Project, which provides logistical support for the initiative.
The Roundtable seeks to be a "living laboratory" that allows for innovation and creativity and includes the perspectives of all races, ethnic origins, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses and abilities. Its approach is based upon research demonstrating that youth engagement can improve the effectiveness of interventions in healthy eating, smoking reduction, obesity prevention, sexual health and in other areas.
At My Best reaches more than 100,000 Canadian young people each year, through a curriculum that is focused on healthy eating, physical activity and emotional wellness.
It has been officially endorsed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been implemented in over 4500 primary schools across the country. Almost half a million children have participated in At My Best since it was introduced.
The Roundtable’s Youth Health Rights project has addressed a major gap in the knowledge and understanding of young Canadians about their rights and access to healthcare across Canada’s ten provinces.
The project commissioned a discussion paper from the University of Toronto on Youth Rights in Canada which was published in 2017 and mapped out the legal health rights of young Canadians, identifying barriers that they may face in exercising these rights. The project provides a platform to help young people to lobby politicians at all levels to address youth health rights more effectively.
The wider impact of the YCRH has been evaluated by a study in the Canadian Journal of Public Health2 in 2019 (see Update).
Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE) has been Canada’s premier professional organization for physical and health educators for over 80 years. PHE has a vision to support schools in becoming Health Promoting Schools that include the provision of quality daily physical education and the fostering of healthy school communities. PHE provides this support through a range of programmes, resources and initiatives.
1. WHO (2018) NCD Country Profiles: Canada. Available at https://www.who.int/nmh/countries/can_en.pdf?ua=1 accessed 24 November 2019
2. Ramey, H.L., Rayner, ME., Mahdy, S.S. et al. (2019) The Young Canadians Roundtable on Health: promising practices for youth and adults working in partnership, Canadian Journal of Public Health 110: 626. https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-019-00254-9