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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Issue 6, pp e583–e585 | Cite as

Are inequalities produced through the differential access to play opportunities at school? A call to level the playing field

  • Stephanie A. AlexanderEmail author
  • Trade A. Barnett
  • Caroline Fitzpatrick
Commentary
  • 2 Downloads

Abstract

Children’s play is characterized as pleasurable, but it is also viewed as critical for child health and well-being. Yet over the past decade, play researchers and advocates from various disciplines have suggested that there are decreasing opportunities for children to play, particularly at school. One concern is that the changing play environment in schools is reducing children’s active play options and is thereby contributing to increases in childhood obesity. Building on findings from the Québec Adipose and Lifestyle InvesTigation in Youth (QUALITY), this commentary suggests that while opportunities to engage in physical activity may indeed be differentially shaped by school play environments, physical health may not be the only factor at stake in unequal play environments in schools. While this is not an altogether new concern, we argue that it is nevertheless important to highlight within physical activity research settings that children’s overall well-being, including their experience of pleasure, creativity, imagination and sociability, is also shaped by a school’s play environment. Addressing possible inequalities in children’s experience of play in schools, we propose several questions and future research directions for addressing children’s health and well-being in the school environment.

Key Words

Play child physical activity inequalities health promotion Canada 

Résumé

Le jeu des enfants est caractérisé comme étant non seulement plaisant, mais essentiel à leur santé et à leur bien-être. Pourtant, depuis une dizaine d’années, les chercheurs et les défenseurs du jeu dans diverses disciplines indiquent que les enfants ont de moins en moins d’occasions de jouer, particulièrement à l’école. L’un des problèmes est que l’environnement de jeu dans les écoles réduit les options de jeu actif pour les enfants et contribue donc aux augmentations de l’obésité juvénile. Inspiré des constatations de l’enquête QUébec Adipose and Lifestyle Investigation in Youth (QUALITY), notre commentaire suggère qu’il est vrai que les occasions de faire de l’activité physique peuvent varier selon les environnements de jeu des écoles, mais que ces inégalités ne touchent pas uniquement la santé physique. Le problème n’est pas entièrement nouveau, mais nous faisons valoir qu’il est néanmoins important de souligner, dans les milieux de recherche sur l’activité physique, que le bien-être global des enfants, y compris leur expérience du plaisir, de la créativité, de l’imagination et de la sociabilité, se construit aussi par l’environnement de jeu de leur école. Étant donné les inégalités possibles dans l’expérience de jeu des enfants à l’école, nous proposons plusieurs questions et pistes de recherche futures pour aborder la santé et le bien-être des enfants en milieu scolaire.

Mots Clés

jeu enfant activité physique inégalités promotion de la santé Canada 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie A. Alexander
    • 1
    Email author
  • Trade A. Barnett
    • 2
    • 3
  • Caroline Fitzpatrick
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Collège d’études mondialesFondation Maison des Sciences de l’HommeParisFrance
  2. 2.Epidemiology and Biostatistics UnitINRS-Institut Armand-FrappierLavalCanada
  3. 3.Centre de recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-JustineMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Département des sciences humainesUniversité Sainte-Anne, Pointe-de-L’ÉgliseCanada
  5. 5.PERFORM CentreConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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