Program

Dec 23, 2013

OVERVIEW

The Action Schools! British Columbia (AS! BC) intervention is a school-based program aimed at increasing physical activity in children (Grades 4 through 6). The intervention emphasizes increased physical activity in multiple domains of children’s lives. In one evaluation of the program, 10 schools were randomly assigned to one of three study conditions: 1) a condition with external program facilitators, 2) a condition with individuals in the school were assigned as facilitators, and 3) a usual practice condition, with no intervention.  Results found that only boys in the condition with external facilitators took significantly more footsteps than boys in the usual practice condition.  In another evaluation of the program, 10 schools were randomly assigned to a treatment or control condition.  At the end of the 16-week program, children in the treatment group had significantly higher levels of physical fitness and significantly lower systolic blood pressure compared with their peers in the control group.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Children 9 to 11 years old (Grades 4 through 6)

The AS! BC program is a school-based intervention designed to increase physical activity for children. The programming is not limited to classroom-based education; rather it uses a whole-school approach.  Namely, the program targets six life domains or “action zones”: 1) school environment; 2) physical education; 3) family and community; 4) “Classroom Action”; 5) school spirit; and 6) extracurricular activities.  The only core component of programming is “Classroom Action,” five daily 15-minute sessions of moderate to intense physical led by teachers to provide children with a total of 150 minutes of exercise each week (including physical education classes).  A program facilitator works with a school Action Team (the school principal and several teachers) to create a program that adapts the other five life domains to the specific needs of each school.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Naylor, P., Macdonald, H. M., Warburton, D. E. R., Reed, K. E., & McKay, H. A. (2008). An active school model to promote physical activity in elementary schools:  Action schools!  BC. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42, 338-343. 

Evaluated population: A total of 515 children ages 9 to 11 years (Grades 4 through 6) at 10 elementary schools in the Greater Vancouver, British Columbia area served as the sample for this evaluation. Children were 46% East and South-East Asian, 24% North American of European descent, 10% South Asian, 13% mixed, and 8% other.  The average age of the children at baseline was 10.2 years.

Approach: Schools were randomly assigned to one of the following three conditions: 1) a liaison condition, in which schools were provided with external program facilitators, 2) a champion condition, in which individuals within the school were assigned as facilitators, and 3) a usual practice condition, in which no intervention was implemented.

The physical activity outcome variable was measured using a pedometer, which measures the number of footsteps an individual takes. Children wore pedometers for a four-day period following a six-week intervention phase. The numbers of footsteps taken across the four-day period were averaged to produce a footsteps-per-day score for each child.

Results: Results indicated that only boys in the liaison condition took significantly more steps than boys in the usual practice condition. No impacts were found among boys in the liaison group compared with those in the champion group or among boys in the champion condition compared with those in the usual practice group. No significant differences were found among girls in any of the three groups.

Reed, K. E., Warburton, D. E., Macdonald, H. M., Naylor, P. J., & McKay, H. A. (2008). Action Schools! BC: A school-based physical activity intervention designed to decrease cardiovascular disease risk factors in children. Preventive medicine46(6), 525-531.

Evaluated population: A total of 514 4th and 5th graders, ages 9-11, at elementary schools in the Richmond and Vancouver school districts in British Columbia participated in the study.  The number of children in each Tanner (puberty) developmental stage was similar for the treatment group and the control group both at baseline and at final assessment. Forty-five percent of participating children had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor at baseline.

Approach: Schools that agreed to participate in the study were stratified by size and geographic location before being randomly assigned to a treatment group (7 schools) or a control group (3 schools).  Of the 1,084 4th and 5th graders at these schools, 514 returned parent consent forms. For some measures, only a subsample of children was assessed.  For cardiovascular fitness, 268 randomly selected children (from 6 treatment schools and 2 control schools) were tested.  Similarly, for blood sample testing (for cardiovascular disease risk factors), additional consent was necessary and was only obtained for 77 of the 514 participants; of these children, 60 completed post-test blood sampling (attrition = 21% for control and 23% for treatment schools).

Statistical analyses accounted for the clustering of children within schools.

Teachers received a one-day training workshop led by program staff as well as a Classroom Action Bin with resources to support an individualized program for the school.  The program was implemented over the course of the school year, and most outcomes were assessed twice, at pre-test assessments at the beginning of the year and post-test assessments at the end of the school year.  Outcomes assessed included children’s cardiovascular fitness, BMI, blood pressure, and various predictors of cardiovascular disease.  Children’s physical maturity and the amount of physical activity children engaged in, which was assessed at three time points across the school year, were also included as descriptive measures.

Results: At all three assessment intervals, children in the treatment group had slightly, but not significantly higher levels of physical activity.  Controlling for baseline physical fitness levels, children in the treatment group experienced significantly larger gains in physical fitness than did their peers in the control group.  Similarly, children in the treatment group experienced a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure, while, on average, their peers in the control group had increased systolic blood pressure.  Although positive changes on all cardiovascular disease risk factors were seen in the treatment group compared with the control group, none of these changes were significant. There was no difference for diastolic blood pressure between children in the treatment and control groups.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References 

Naylor, P., Macdonald, H. M., Warburton, D. E. R., Reed, K. E., & McKay, H. A. (2008). An active school model to promote physical activity in elementary schools:  Action schools!  BBC. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42, 338-343.

Reed, K. E., Warburton, D. E., Macdonald, H. M., Naylor, P. J., & McKay, H. A. (2008). Action Schools! BC: A school-based physical activity intervention designed to decrease cardiovascular disease risk factors in children. Preventive medicine46(6), 525-531.

For more information about this program, please visit: http://www.actionschoolsbc.ca/

Contact Information:

Action Schools! BC
#360 – 3820 Cessna Drive
Richmond, BC
V7B 0A2

Phone:  (604) 738-2468

Fax:  (604) 333-3579

E-mail:  info@actionschoolsbc.ca

KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Elementary, Middle School, Males and Females (Co-ed), School-Based, Other Physical Health, Asian, White/Caucasian, Manual is Available

Program information last updated on 12/23/13.

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