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How Active are Children in Ireland?
25, May 2014 - 10:32

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Ireland's Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth


Children are natural movers but there is concern that children across the globe are not as active as they should be. Monitoring children's physical activity levels over time is vital to help decide where to allocate funds and to capture the effects of good policy and programming.

The Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth is a means of collating all data related to children's physical activity levels in a particular country and ‘grading' the evidence using a grading system just like a school report card i.e. A to F or inconclusive/incomplete if there are not enough data available yet.

The Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has been an effective tool in powering the movement to get kids moving by influencing priorities, policies and practice in Canada for the last 9 years (see and is an annual ‘state of the nation' report. It represents an on-going effort to advance knowledge to affect change by being the link between research and practice.

Now, a further 14 countries from around the globe have replicated the Report Card process and used 9 common indicators and the standardised grading system. The overall objective of this work is to create and release the inaugural Ireland's Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, a document that aims to provoke change in funding, priorities and practices within Ireland and have children's physical activity elevated on the political agenda.

The working group for this project was formed in May 2013 and involves a collaboration of stakeholders from various interest groups from across the island of Ireland n consultation with key stakeholders. The current working group is chaired by Dr Deirdre Harrington from the University of Leicester, UK and involves a number of institutions including Cork Institute of Technology (Dr Tara Coppinger), Dublin City University (Dr Catherine Woods; Dr Sarahjane Belton); Economic and Social Research Institute (Professor Richard Layte); Institute of Public Health (Ms Teresa Keating); Mary Immaculate College (Dr Elaine Murtagh); Nutrition and Health Foundation (Dr Muireann Cullen), University of Limerick (Professor Alan Donnelly; Dr Kieran Dowd), University of Ulster (Professor Marie Murphy) and Waterford Institute of Technology (Dr Niamh Murphy).


The Report Card on Physical Activity is a comprehensive assessment of the current state of physical activity among children and youth. There are a number of ‘indicators related to children's physical activity' that have been included in this Report Card.

These indicators include the behaviours (TV viewing, sport participation, active transportation, active play and PE participation) that influence children's overall physical activity levels. They can also include the settings (the home, the school, the community and the built environment and government investment and policy) that are known to support children's physical activity.

The findings of the Report Card can be accessed in pdf format as:

* a short form which highlights the cover story and key findings and recommendations
* a long form which includes more detailed information of the grading process and comments for each indicator


The Report Card has had a number of uses and impacts in other countries including motivating decision makers to make positive choices about physical activity programming.

In all countries, the Report Card will provide a comprehensive assessment of indicators relating to school, family, community and the built environment, and policy that contribute to the physical activity levels of Irish children and youth.

Monitoring how these indicators change over time is important. This first Report Card in Ireland will act as a baseline for surveillance of physical activity promotion efforts and to ensure that any changes are captured


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