The importance of physical activity on our well-being and health is well understood. So
too is our understanding of the importance of a healthy early childhood development. A third
area of extensive research revolves around newcomer engagement and settlement. However,
little is known about the compound effect of all of these issues together. This study explores
the following: 1) What physical activity programs and services exist for newcomer children; 2)
What limits the participation of newcomer children in physical activity; 3) What encourages
their participation and; 4) What additional supports could stem from strong guiding policy and
initiatives on physical activity for newcomer children.
There is limited direct research related to physical activity and newcomer children.
Thus, extrapolation of related literature which stresses the importance of physical activity in
early childhood development leads to the conclusion that the same must be true for newcomer
populations. A review of programs and services in Canada suggests there are many supports for
newcomer youth who wish to be physically active, but very limited programming for younger
children under the age of five, in other words, pre-school aged children.
This study consisted of structured interviews of five key informants from organizations
across Canada that work with newcomer children and youth. The interviews explored the types
of programs offered, the barriers faced by the newcomers that impede their participation in
physical activity, the availability of political backing, funding and policy to support their
initiatives, and whether these programs and services were useful tools with regards to a
positive settlement experience for newcomer families. Information obtained from the key
informants consisted of their accounts of their own experiences, their opinions, as well as some
primary data from their internal research.
The results of these surveys suggest that physical activity initiatives are well-appreciated
services by newcomers. Additionally, they suggest that organized physical activity provides a
great opportunity for organizations to address many additional issues facing new Canadians.
Physical activity programs for newcomer children have the capacity to not only contribute to
positive early childhood development, but to help newcomer children settle into their new