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Researchers call for improved access to safe, outdoor spaces to reduce the pandemic’s devastating impact on children & youth

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Let the Children Play is a call to action created in a partnership between Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST), The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and researchers from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, including Professor Barbara Fallon and research associates Genevieve Sansone and Sima Sajedinejad. FIFSW Adjunct Assistant Professor Jeffrey Schiffer, Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto was a principal author.

“As Ontario strives to rebuild and recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, action is needed now to prioritize our children’s optimal health and development,” write the Call to Action’s authors. “By applying Indigenous tools and approaches to well-being through access to the outdoors and physical activity, we can help to reduce the consequences of the pandemic and shape the future trajectories for a generation at risk.”

> Click here to read the full report and list of recommendations on the SickKids’ website.

On May 17, in the wake of the Call to Action’s release, Ontario’s health minister commented that the government may allow recreational amenities to reopen before stay-at-home order expires.

> Read the coverage from CP24

“We’ve seen such, such negative impact during the pandemic on children’s health and well being and their parents and we really want people to get outside and interact in a safe way,” Dr. Catherine Birken, the principal author of the study, told CP24. “Social isolation has been the number one driver of mental health problems so we really feel children should be outdoors and active.”