After School Hours

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

With holiday break now past, Monctonian teenagers have returned to their typical 7 hour school day. While spending several hours a day at school may cause free time to seem scarce in comparison to the endless hours of free time during the holidays, nonetheless, we spend more time outside of school than in it.

We often treat our free time as if it was, well, free. We only realize how valuable a resource time is when we begin to lack enough of it to do everything that we need to do. Recently in New Brunswick, there has been an alliance of both governmental and non-governmental organizations formed in order to tackle what is called the after school hours issue. Why is the way our time is spent outside of school a concern?

The after school hours, defined as all the time (afternoons, evenings, weekends, etc.) youth spent outside of school, are often hours spent bored or engaged in activities that aren’t particularly beneficial (e.g. watching TV) and that may even be harmful. While a little rest and relaxation is part of a balanced lifestyle, it should be of the healthy sort.

Participation in quality after school programs is an enriching experience, as well tell you any athlete, music player, or club member. And, it’s good for your health, even if you’re not participating in an activity that increases your heart rate or preparing and eating healthy foods (although activities that do this are also enjoyable and especially beneficial to physical wellness). It’s often forgotten that there are several components to wellness. Here in New Brunswick, we recognize them through the four pillars of wellness: mental fitness, healthy eating, physical activity, and tobaco-free living.

All young people in New Brunswick should be able to access opportunities to flourish, to be active, to bind themselves to their community, and to gain life skills. It’s important for communities to recognize this and act accordingly.

Originally published in the Times & Transcript on January 8th, 2011.



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