Physical Activity in Early Childhood: The Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development

I think this is a wonderful website that provides lots of information in a really clear, concise way that is easy to incorporate in programming I do with parents and children. It gets the key messages across and breaks it down in a way that is easy to understand and makes sense. I appreciate using these resources or recommending that parents check out the website as well when they have questions regarding the latest information on early childhood development. Great job!

Since its inception in 2001, the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD) has worked relentlessly to pursue its mission of providing parents, practitioners, service planners and policy makers the most relevant, high quality, scientifically-based information on early childhood development. In a little over a decade, the CEECD has published in its online Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development close to 400 papers on 47 different topics, while always insuring that the information was available in various formats and levels of language to meet the needs of a variety of readers.

With its priority to address topics that are relevant to its readers and to organizations that support its work, the CEECD was enthusiastic when The Lawson Foundation proposed and agreed to financially support the development of a new entry in the Encyclopedia focusing on physical activity in young children (0-5 years).

While there are increasing concerns over the rising prevalence of overweight, obesity and lack of physical activity among adults, adolescents and school children in Canada, there is a real dearth of knowledge concerning preschool children. In response to this worrying situation, and to provide the best scientific information, CEECD gathered and synthesized the latest international research on physical activity to inform and better equip parents, practitioners, service planners and policy makers with the most up-to-date information available.

With the support of The Lawson Foundation and a grant of $41,000, the CEECD was able to develop a high quality entry on physical activity in young children, release related resources and disseminate them to a variety of audiences. 

Over a twelve-month period, using a thorough and rigorous process to identify the best international experts in the field, the CEECD published in its Encyclopedia six original papers on physical activity —all short syntheses of the most recent research— covering the most important aspects of the topic using a life-cycle approach to capture both the development and service perspectives. From these six experts’ papers, a three-page journalistic synthesis was written, answering three fundamental questions: How important is physical activity for young children? What do we know about it? And what can be done in term of services and policies to enhance and promote physical activity in young children? A bulletin and two leaflets, one for parents and practitioners and one for Aboriginal communities, were also developed, published and widely disseminated during the course of the project.

The process used to gather the best scientific information allowed us to capture the actual scientific consensus (importance, effects and guidelines) and to identify additional research activities that still need to be done in this area.

This project has had many positive outcomes for CEECD. Since the launch of this topic, readers have been providing very positive feedback and have already asked for numerous printed copies of the resources. Requests came from child care and early years centres, schools and school health networks, family resources programs, Regional Health Units, pediatricians, federal and provincial governments, midwives associations, Band Councils from many provinces and Aboriginal centres and associations.

Material gathered throughout this project has also offered the CEECD new opportunities to share its knowledge with groups of experts who are providing recommendations and guidance on public policies related to screen time for young children.

This project has helped to raise awareness and respond to a need for reliable information on the topic of physical activity in early childhood. CEECD believes that parents and those working closely with young children should have access to relevant and high quality information and we will continue to promote and share this knowledge with those who need it most.

Amanda Mayer

Amanda Mayer

Amanda has been with the Lawson Foundation as Director of Communications & Governance since 2014. Cause-driven, engaged, and socially conscious – Amanda embraces opportunities that allow her to take on issues and support causes that inspire her.

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