Healthy Active Children

Increasing opportunities for all children and youth to play outdoors and contributing to to the prevention of chronic disease, in particular diabetes, will go a long way in ensuring their full potential as well as  enhancing health outcomes with lifelong benefits.


Outdoor play and the prevention of chronic disease are key ingredients for a healthy and productive life. The Lawson Foundation aspires to enhancing positive health and wellbeing outcomes, including physical, cognitive, social and emotional development, combating sedentarism, and minimizing the risk of chronic disease. This is a good thing for children and youth as well as for families and society as a whole.

The Foundation’s 14 year experience funding diabetes prevention and management has reinforced our understanding and our resolve that physical activity and good nutrition are key in the battle against type 2 diabetes, one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in Canada, and one increasingly seen at a young age.  We also know that they are important for children and youth in the management of type 1 diabetes. Advances in diabetes self-care and management have been a model for dealing with other chronic conditions. We want to continue to build on this work and learn from it.

The Lawson Foundation supports monitoring progress and the mobilization of knowledge to get the word out on the importance of healthy active living, and community action to get children and youth of all ages moving, combat sedentarism and make healthy food choices. We also support continued knowledge development that will lead to sound public policy to make it easier for Canadians to make healthy choices. The Foundation works with diverse partners to reach all children and youth, of all capabilities, in a variety of settings because we recognize that every setting has a role to play in shaping behaviour. We will also support families to model and encourage healthy active living for their children. By focusing on children and youth, we can help create a healthier society.

Have an idea?

The Lawson Foundation is always interested in hearing about new ideas. If you have carefully read our Strategic Direction and believe that your work is closely aligned to it, we invite you to put your innovative ideas forward for potential funding support via our Ideas Portal.

Outdoor Play Strategy

Outdoor Play Strategy

Our $2.7 million dollar Outdoor Play Strategy seeks to help us better understand how to increase children’s opportunities for self-directed outdoor play in all settings – at home, in school, in child care, the community and nature.

Child and Youth Diabetes Strategy

Child & Youth Diabetes Strategy

Building on the Foundation’s 15 years of leadership and experience funding diabetes prevention and management programs for children and youth.

Active Projects – General

Quality and Transformative Outdoor Play-Based Learning: Scaling the Forest and Nature School Approach in Canada (2016-2018)
Child and Nature Alliance Society

Knowledge Exchange and Children and Youth (2014-2019)
Community Food Centres Canada

Meechim Farm School/ Aki Energy (2016-2018)
Community Ownership Solutions

Junior Research Chairs Program: Increasing Canadian Capacity for Pediatric Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research (2010-2015)
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Foundation
Toward a training program for young researchers interested in prevention to eventually reduce and reverse the trends in unhealthy living behaviours that precipitate childhood obesity and premature cardio-metabolic disease. This investment in research and leadership capacity is focused on increasing the prevalence of healthy behaviours in all children to keep healthy kids healthy, to mitigate the inactivity and obesity crisis, and to help shift the public’s current focus on obesity to an interest in health promotion. The Lawson Foundation’s grant is matched by the CHEO Foundation.

Have a Ball! (2014-2016)
Healthy Nexus


Active Projects – Child & Youth Diabetes Strategy

National dissemination of Exercise is Medicine Canada – an initiative to promote the prescription of physical activity and exercise through primary practice (2014)
Acadia University

Healthy Eating & Active Living for Diabetes – Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (2014-2015)
Athabasca University

Many Faces of Diabetes (2014-2015)
BC Multicultural Health Services Society

Screening type 2 diabetes mellitus on the 2nd day after delivery in women with gestational diabetes (2014-2015)
Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke

Carbohydrate counting and type 1 diabetes: Assessment of accuracy in adolescents who currently count, and a randomized controlled trial of internet-based teaching for those learning to count (2014-2015)
Hospital for Sick Children

Healthy Nights for Healthier Days in Kahnawake(2012-2013)
McGill University
To support the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project (KSDPP) as it addresses the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake, Quebec. To assess, translate and combine community knowledge with scientific evidence to inform the development of healthy lifestyles promoting interventions that are age and culturally appropriate and which empower educators, families and children to adopt healthy sleeping habits as a component of healthy lifestyles.

NorWest Mobile Diabetes Screening and Intervention (2014-2015)
NorWest Co-Op Community Health Centre

The MoMMii Study. Effects of a multimodal diabetes prevention intervention on families with a history of gestational diabetes (2014-2015)
Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre

Balanced Scorecard for Quality in Diabetes Care (2014-2015)
Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation

RADAR-Reorganizing the Approach to Diabetes through the Application of Registries (2014-2015)
University of Alberta

Exploring the feasibility of Using Emerging Communication Technologies to Improve Self-Management Capacity in South Asian adults with type 2 diabetes (2012-2013)
University of Alberta
To support the application of emerging communication technologies to improve health literacy, diabetes self-efficacy and health-related behaviours, and support medication-decision making in high risk South Asians with type 2 diabetes living in Calgary and Edmonton. Potential interventions include: an internet-based interactive website; novel smart phone or tablet computer applications; push and/or drip social marketing; social media and online peer support networks; using technology to facilitate communication among patients and healthcare providers; a health information pathfinder.

Evaluation of an Improved Home-based Alternative to Traditional Weight Training in People with Type 2 Diabetes (2014-2015)
University of Calgary

Technology-Enhanced Transition Coordinator (2014-2015)
University of Calgary

Developmental Origins of Chronic Diseases in Childhood in Manitoba (2015-2019)
University of Manitoba

An Investigative Documentary Book: Confronting type 2 diabetes among children in Manitoba (2015)
University of Manitoba

Innovative lifestyle prenatal program for First Nations pregnant women in rural or remote communities in Manitoba (2014-2015)
University of Manitoba

Influences on the development of type 2 diabetes in childhood: The Next Generation (NextGen) longitudinal birth cohort (offspring of young adults diagnosed with T2D prior to 18 years) (2012-2013)
University of Manitoba
To support a study to determine the independent roles of maternal factors, genetics, intrauterine exposures, and postnatal environment on the onset and incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring, to inform future prevention, screening and management strategies. To engage the community in a comprehensive and strategic manner to enhance knowledge transfer and design innovative intervention projects, and to build a platform for prevention including intensive targeted breastfeeding messaging.

The Role and Effectiveness of Diabetes Coaches in British Columbia (2014-2015)
University of Victoria

Transformation of Indigenous Primary Healthcare Delivery (FORGE AHEAD): Community-driven Innovations and Strategic Scale-up Toolkits (2014-2015)
Western University

ADAPT-P Enhancement (2014)
Women’s College Hospital
To measure the impact of ADAPT-M on the family by evaluating changes in partners’ fitness and metabolic health.

Avoiding Diabetes after Pregnancy in Mom (ADAPT M)
Women’s College Hospital
To support the needs of mothers with previous gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and lower their risk of future diabetes through lifestyle modification. Findings from the previous Lawson-funded study revealed that while women with GDM are motivated to make lifestyle changes, many barriers exist. The ADAPT (Avoiding Diabetes after Pregnancy Trial) program, developed based on those findings, is a customized, home-based diabetes prevention program for women with prior GDM. This program will use the exercise and coaching expertise at the Women’s College Hospital Cardiovascular Prevention and Education Program, to implement ADAPT Taddle Creek diabetes education programs in Toronto.


Active Projects – Outdoor Play Strategy

A Child’s Right to Free Play: A risk mitigation policy toolkit to support risky play (2015-2017)
Canadian Public Health Association

Children’s Outdoor Play Experiences: Why they play and how they benefit (2015)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Foundation for the Forest and Nature School Movement in Canada (2015-2016)
Child and Nature Alliance of Canada

YYC PLAY (2015-2016)
City of Calgary

Can loose parts foster unstructured, self-directed, risky outdoor play? A multilevel intervention in early years settings (2015-2017)
Dalhousie University

The Opal Project: Modelling outdoor play and learning in school communities (2015-2017)
Earth Day Canada

Dig in to Play! (2015-2016)
Ecosource Mississauga

Creating a Nurturing Outdoor Environment: Supporting active play for infants and young children (2015-2017)
Fonds du Regroupement des Centres de la Petite Enfance de la Montérégie

Embracing Our Winter City: Extending, enhancing and expanding winter play opportunities for preschoolers (2015-2016)
Glenora Child Care Society

Mobilizing Action and Building a Play Legacy: International Play Association Conference (2017)
City of Calgary

Active Outdoor Play: Position statement activation and impact (2015)
KidActive – Healthy Kids, Communities and Outdoors

Play Ambassadors (2015-2016)
Nose Creek Sports and Recreation Association/ Vivo for Healthier Generations

Building Capacity: Creating specialized outdoor play training to empower children’s experiences (2015-2016)
Okanagan College

Evaluation of the Outdoor Play Strategy (2015-2018)
The Social Research and Demonstration Corporation

Outdoor Classroom Specialist (2015-2016)
YMCA of London Foundation

2015 Report Card on the Physical Activity of Children and Youth (2015)

Go Play Outside: Reframing risk to promote children’s outdoor play (2015)
University of British Columbia

Past Projects

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