Personal Health Practices Around Physical Activity as Perceived by the Aboriginal Children of Prince Edward Island

  • Kim A. Critchley Dean and Associate Professor School of Nursing University of Prince Edward Island
  • Fiona Walton Associate Professor Faculty of Education University of Prince Edward Island
  • Vianne Timmons Vice President Academic and Development University of Prince Edward Island
  • Janet Bryanton Associate Professor School of Nursing University of Prince Edward Island
  • Mary Jean McCarthy Assistant Professor School of Nursing University of Prince Edward Island
  • Jennifer Taylor Associate Professor Family Science and Nutrition University of Prince Edward Island
Keywords: Prince Edward Island, Aboriginal children’s health, perceptions, community, multidisciplinary, physical activity

Abstract

During the past decade, there have been several health surveys involving Canada’s Aboriginal people. In many of these studies, the Aboriginal population of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) has not been adequately represented. Given the lack of information regarding the health status of this population, the Abegweit and Lennox Island First Nations bands collaborated with the University of Prince Edward Island’s Faculty of Education, School of Nursing, and Department of Family and Nutritional Sciences to gain a more comprehensive profile of the perceptions, health behaviours and needs of Aboriginal children living on reserve in both of these Island communities.

The study focused primarily on three of the determinants of health: early childhood development, education, and personal health practices and coping. Individuals from the two P.E.I. communities were interviewed, including 18 children in the 6-8 year age group, 22 children in the 9-12 year age group, 28 youth in the 13-18 year age group, 27 parents or caregivers, and 6 pregnant mothers.This research is important as there is little, if any, research undertaken with the Mi’kmaq communities of P.E.I. Unique features of this study are the inclusion of children as informants, the use of a multidisciplinary team and the active involvement of the Mi’kmaq community in all stages of the project.

The purpose of this article is to disseminate some of the personal health practices around physical activity as perceived by the Aboriginal children and to identify current health behaviours and/or needs of active, healthy lifestyles.Therefore, only the results focusing on these children’s perceptions of their health, and their perceptions and behaviours about physical activities, will be discussed.