The Regional Municipality Of York


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Physical Activity for Schools

Public Health Nurses are available to provide schools in York Region with consultation, support, programs and resources on physical activity for staff, students and parents. Find out how to contact the York Region Public Health Nurse for your school by calling Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653. The resources below are available to support schools that identify physical activity as a priority.

The pause to PLAY Challenge

In partnership with York Region Public Health, the annual spring pause to PLAY challenge in York Region schools encourages students to put their TV’s, gaming devices, tablets and computers on “pause” for one full week and become more physically active through play. Parents can also join in with their kids at home! The challenge runs April 30 to May 4, 2018.

Teachers and instructors can register their classrooms for the pause to PLAY challenge with the chance to win prizes. Public Health Nurses will support classrooms, students, schools and parents with pause to PLAY posters, scoresheets, tips and daily messages during the challenge. 

Register online for the pause to PLAY challenge

For more information on pause to PLAY, please email York Region Public Health School Services at:

Active School Transportation

Heading to School? Walk Safe. Drive Safe. Be Safe! The benefits of active and safe routes to school include increased physical activity, reduced traffic congestion and better air quality. Going to school - Go Active means choosing to walk, bike, take the bus or park and walk a block instead of driving to school in a private vehicle.

School Travel Planning is for selected schools who want to address active school travel more extensively. It brings a variety of partners together to make a school travel plan to address the needs of a specific school community.  

Walking Wednesdays: A step by step resource is a guide for students, parents and school staff promoting fun and active walking initiatives throughout the school year. This resource follows a healthy schools approach to engage the entire school community in promoting and implementing activities that encourage active school travel. Contact your York Region Public Health Nurse or Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 for further information.

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Active Tools for Schools

Active Tools for Schools is designed to help elementary schools make active choices with user-friendly resources promoting increased levels of physical activity.

Active Tools for Schools breaks down the broad concept of physical activity into nine elements.  Review the different elements to support a Healthy School Committee or Champion in the development and implementation of the Healthy Schools Action Plan. The Active Tools for Schools Checklist is a great way for your school to get started.


Reference Frameworks for 9 ATS elements


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DPA (Daily Physical Activity)

Daily Physical Activity (DPA) was mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education in 2005 (P/PM 138) and requires all elementary students to have a minimum of twenty minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day during instructional time.

Active Tools for Schools – Enhancing DPA supports schools in planning and implementing DPA by introducing the concept of creating a healthy, active school environment.



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Outdoor Activity

It is important to consider weather precautions with outdoor play, sports and curriculum related activities. Refer to the York Catholic District School Board Extreme Weather Policy #221 or the York Region District School Board Extreme Weather Conditions Guideline.

Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun is a leading cause of skin cancer. The longer the exposure, the greater the risk, especially for those individuals exposed at a young age.

There are many ways to reduce the risks for skin cancer:

  • If you will be outside most of the day on field trips or school fun days, follow sun safety guidelines to reduce your health risks. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen and lip balm that contain ingredients that protect from UVA and UVB rays
  • Consider access to shaded areas, cover up with clothing, wear a hat and sunglasses and carry sunscreen to reapply after swimming or sweating
  • If it is a short trip, try arranging activities before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to avoid intense midday sun rays
  • Remember sun protection for outdoor winter sports. Skiers, snowboarders and tobagganners can be exposed to extra UV rays reflected from the snow and elevation of the mountains

For more information on sun safety guidelines, visit Sun and UV Index for Outdoor activity.

Educate youth and their families that there is no safe way to tan – a tan from the sun’s ray or under lights in a tanning salon will damage your skin. Promote learning about the Skin Cancer Prevention Act (2013). Get the facts for prevention and screening for indoor tanning.

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PLAY Program (Peer Leadership for Active Youth)

The PLAY program offers leadership training for students in grades five to eight who, once trained, teach interactive and co-operative games to students in kindergarten to grade three at recess. This program promotes positive spaces for learning and play by enhancing student leadership skills, promoting inclusivity of all students on the playground, increasing physical activity opportunities and enhancing social skills and overall mental well-being.

The Handbook for PLAY Leader Champions is made up of five sections to guide leaders and junior students through a half day training session. There is also a Handbook for PLAY Program Student Leaders that provides information and skill building through interactive activities where students learn about leadership, teamwork, conflict resolution, communication and respect. Following the training, student PLAY leaders implement their new skills while they lead active and fun games on the playground. To request PLAY resources for your school, please contact your York Region Public Health Nurse or call York Region Health Connection at 1 800 361-5653, TTY 1-866-252-9933.

York Region Public Health’s PLAY program links to elementary school curriculum expectations and supports the development of positive climates for learning in the York Region District School Board and the York Catholic District School Board.

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Physical Activity in Secondary Schools

Opportunities for secondary students to engage in physical activity are important for academic success and physical and mental well-being. A variety of resources and initiatives are outlined in a Physical Activity Framework for Secondary Schools.

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