2016 RECR 4400: Research Questions

“What are the positive effects of outdoor play in the healthy development of children aged 3-5yrs and how are current programs reflecting this?” – Shannon Penway

The positive effects of outdoor play in the healthy development of children were: high involvement, increased connection to nature, increased well-being, increased physical health, increased mental health, increased critical thinking abilities, increased resilience and less risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. If children do not have enough outdoor play due to barriers such as parental attitudes, over-scheduled children, parents working too much, lack of accessibility to nature, and levels of early years educators knowledge regarding outdoor play, then they may experience negative effects to their development including: an increased obesity risk, increased mental health disease risk, negative attitudes towards school, test anxiety, decreased creativity and low resiliency levels. Clearly, outdoor play is very important in the healthy development of children. To answer the second part of my question, in regards to how are current programs reflecting this, there are 12 organizations that are dedicated to providing outdoor play opportunities including Fresh Air Learning, my agency that I worked with, in the Lower Mainland; however the demand is too high for many who wish for their children to participate in those programs. I found that Fresh Air Learning was facing challenges regarding financial and capacity constraints that are potential barriers from providing more programs to meet the need of the community for outdoor play. In order to overcome these challenges and continue to provide great outdoor play opportunities to the community I provided four recommendations.

  • Relieve financial constraints by seeking sponsorship from an outdoor retailer such as MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) to provide gear and equipment for the organization.
  • Relieve financial constraints by partnering with a well-established organization like the North Vancouver Recreation Commission that shares common visions.
  • Relieve capacity constraints by expanding their program offerings to different parks across North Vancouver.
  • Provide field trips for preschool and elementary schools to engage children from traditional forms of preschool and elementary school in outdoor play. The goal of this would be to raise awareness of the importance of outdoor play for teachers and parents and to encourage them to enrol in Fresh Air Learning’s professional development programs so that they can facilitate their own outdoor play experiences.
  • My final recommendation is for the North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission to educate their programmers and administration on the benefits of outdoor play and begin to program outdoor play programs.

By doing following these recommendations, I believe that more children will be able to experience the benefits of outdoor play and our communities recreation programming will better reflect importance of outdoor play due to the positive effects on healthy child development. 


What is the correlation between social innovation and community arts recreation programming at the Roundhouse Community Centre? – Tara Nazemi

After extensively exploring and defining these two concepts, I can conclude that there are in fact many correlations between social innovation and community arts recreation programming at the Roundhouse Community Centre and beyond. Through arts programming and specialized projects, local social issues can and have been identified, if not addressed. The distilled correlation between the two is that the centre utilizes the arts as a means to solve local social issues in unconventional problem solving methods, making these types of programs and projects socially innovative. My general and personal discovery about social innovation in connection with community arts programming in recreation can be summed up by a quote from one of my interviews:

"...artists have a long history of engagement with social innovation, and people don't necessarily think of artists when they're talking about the environment, or talking about demographic changes in their neighbourhood, or talk about social isolation...we [arts programmers] like to think of artists in those situations where others might think of engineers, sociologists..."

 - Community Arts Programmer, Marie Lopes


How can private fitness facilities play a role in community physical literacy: with a neutral or positive effect on profit? – Ali Spillette

The purpose of this question was to illustrate how for-profit fitness business can help increase the physical literacy of Canadian’s and not see any negative effects on their profit; this was only partially achieved. The research shows there can be a positive effect on profit if a CSR (corporate social responsibility) campaign is done correctly with sufficient “by in” from management and employees. The increased revenue come from decreased turnover, increased productivity/quality staff and positive PR/marketing created through the CSR campaign. PR However the research did not show that physical literacy can do this better than any other cause. Additionally it was found that having high fit such as prompting physical literacy by a fitness business may decrease the effectiveness of the CSR campaign to the businesses profit related goals. Out of the three CSR campaigns identified, in the primary research portion, to be supporting physical literacy none of them responded, and only one support physical literacy to the same age group as their services targeted. There is evidence to suggest that engaging in CSR can have a neutral or positive effect on profit but the fit of the cause is unclear. Therefore the ability of the for-profit fitness business to play a role in physical literacy is also unclear. There was a lack of previous research into this topic specifically and the use of CSR in for-profit fitness businesses which is reflected in the depth of the research. This research will hopefully serve as a stepping-stone for continued research into this topic area.


Since baby boomers view retirement differently than their predecessors, how then can recreation service providers best assess their ongoing recreation needs to inform programming? – Kurtis Balogun

Baby boomers are an unprecedented phenomenon in current times and this is evident in ways that they are redefining the ways in which their age group views leisure and recreation. This includes their values and the ways that they see themselves at this point in their lives and the subsequent manifestation resulting in changing norms in older generation. Recreation facilities needs to stay current in their understanding of the evolving needs of this demographic and to that end must ensure a timely and meaningful flow of information with this generation. This ensures that the recreation needs of baby boomers are being responded to in an engaging and timely manner so as to best respond to the community demands. The assessment process is an component in gaining information to inform programming and just as the baby boomers bring change to norms, so too must assessment processes adapt. The research question asks Since baby boomers view retirement differently than their predecessors, how then can recreation service providers best assess their ongoing recreation needs to inform programming? The findings recommend several key suggestions regarding the assessment processes including the utilization of online social media, conducting open houses, providing incentives for feedback provision, and utilizing interactive and accessible electronic survey formats.   


What are the benefits to nature connectedness in adults and how can the City of Maple Ridge’s Health and Wellness staff help provide opportunities to better connect adults to nature? – Jamie Thiessen

Recreational professionals provide their communities with vital programs and services that ultimately enhance overall health. A key element to enriching overall holistic wellness includes time in nature. Connecting to our natural environment helps to reduce stress, increase productivity, and become better connected to our earth and ultimately us. Recreational professionals must consider programming in parks and other natural spaces in order to encourage time outdoors and build healthy vibrant communities. Through outdoor based activities, education and creative use of park spaces recreation professionals can help better connect adults to their natural elements. 


How does an arts and culture focussed recreation centre promote positive social capital opportunities for the community?  - Fraser McElroy

The Roundhouse follows their mission, vision and mandate to be a hub of cultural development within a hybrid community centre. This is the only arts designated centre in the Vancouver Park Board and based on their physical space can offer increased art and culture opportunities for the community.  They have a large exhibition hall and 200 seat black box theatre.  These resources allow a wide variety of community partners, theatre groups and blossoming artists to have space, staff expertise and reduced rent to collaborate and create within the Roundhouse.  They have 2 dedicated arts programmers who work with community partners and create programs and residencies that bring community groups, community artists and more to the Roundhouse.  Once there, the artists and groups create programs that can be attended by the community.  The recreation programmers also follow an arts focussed mandate to create programs with lower barriers, such as a free music performance in the centre every week, art fairs, discounted programs and more.  Partnerships and community groups also create meaningful opportunities through performances, workshops, art classes and more, providing even more opportunity for the community to engage and connect with others.  Add in all the special events, core programs, and diverse rentals and you have an arts focussed community centre that provides an above average amount of programs, events, and opportunities for social connectedness, community engagement and positive social capital building.  


What are the key success factors to improve physical activity in seniors and what impact does this have on health and wellness specifically related to depression and dementia? – Sarah Delivuk

It appears that the senior segment of the population is where people’s participation in leisure and activities seems to drop off. There are several reasons for this including access to recreation facilities and chronic health conditions, which can be overcome by putting in place strategies that remove the barriers to participation

Designing communities that provide easy access to physical activity (such as outdoor fitness circuits, walking trails, parks, and green spaces) creates opportunity for seniors to participate more frequently. These options are affordable and make it easy for older adults to get started on active living.  

Developing a walking program has shown to be beneficial in targeting those who are inactive as it is low impact activity that is inexpensive and relatively easy to access. Exercising outdoors is also linked with decrease in depression and increases in mood and satisfaction in life.

Implementing virtual senior centres allows those who cannot physically be present at the recreation center participate through a computer screen. Although there are more advantages to being physically present at a recreation facility, a virtual seniors program provides a good alternative to older adults with chronic health conditions and injuries

Engaging with health care is essential to build awareness about the importance of physical activity and to cater to the specific needs of the seniors population. Health care has the clinical knowledge and expertise on the kind of activity that is most appropriate for seniors with chronic health issues and recreation programmers can then design programs in a way that make it easy for seniors to participate.


What are the implications for youth ages 12-17 that participates in community recreation programs within urbanized environments? – Melissa Tang

Throughout the course of this paper I found that community recreation provides a number of both positive and negative implications within the following areas: physical implications; emotional, spiritual, and mental implications; social implications; and community implications. Key successful factors to healthy youth develop found that programs that demonstrate strength based, relationship based, and opportunities to build the 40 developmental assets listed within this report optimizes on the positive benefits community recreation has on youth adolescents ages 12-17. In addition, it was found that with appropriate supervision, program design, and integration of best practices and exemplary programs can lower negative implications from recreational participation. This includes implications such as bullying and criminality, which, youth of urbanized environments are at a greater risk of in comparison to peers from rural areas. The above experiences are critical to personal development as youth learn to differentiate between positive and negative influences and practice conflict resolution techniques, forming a strong moral compass. In terms of overall youth development the positive implications of community recreation outweigh the negative implications. Overall, community recreation in particular within urbanized environments provide youth ages 12-17 with extraordinary experiences they otherwise would not have. It is suggested that the majority of these experiences will lead to positive implications that will result in an overall increase in community asset and human capital.


 “How does integrating children and youth, aged 6-18, with disabilities into mainstream leisure and recreation benefit their social-emotional development?” – Jenny Yu

Literature research used in this study suggested that compared to the children with disabilities who participated in segregated programs,  those who participated in integrated recreation programs felt more positive about how others, such as parents, teachers and peers, perceive themselves (Dudevany, 2002). In children with and without disabilities, the level of awareness of individual differences and the needs of their peers have become much higher; students have also become more accepting of one another (Turner & McCarthy 1992). Moreover, within inclusive programs that utilized interventions that aimed at developing friendships, significant improvements in quantity and quality of friendships were found (Andrews et Al, 2013)

However, there had been evidence through research found and used in this study that integration of children with disabilities into mainstream leisure and recreation was not beneficial to their social-emotional development. In fact, these studies suggested that an inclusive setting works against the social-emotional development of children with disabilities. Often, the lack of communication and social skills of children with disabilities was an important factor that causes them to be victimized with bullying within their peers. Family members of children with disabilities also had their doubts about inclusive recreation programs; they felt frustration and despair when they saw their child experiencing an inability to communicate with their peers or exhibiting challenging behavior (Clement & Bigby, 2009).

Primary research used in this study consisted of observations of two adapted recreation programs as a member of the general public as well as personal interviews with two recreation programmers specializing in adapted recreation. Primary research focused on two organizations within Vancouver, BC: the Canucks Autism Network and the City of Vancouver, Access Services. From an adapted swim program for children and youth with disabilities, I saw that there was a lack of opportunity for interaction between participants and their peers. Because of the different ways the participants interact with one another (sometimes include yelling, screaming, speaking loudly, repeating phrases, and physical touching), it can be taken as misconduct or “acting out” by instructors and told to cease the behavior. Personal interviews with Tara Rodas (Program Coordinator for Canucks Autism Network) and Dawn Livesley (Recreation Programmer for City of Vancouver, Access Services) revealed that the structure of the inclusive programs and the correct balance of staff support is a crucial factor in determining the quality and quantity of social interaction between children with and without disabilities.


How does recreation participation aid in the acculturation of recently immigrated adolescents in the Guildford Town Center? – Salona Narayan

Recreation allows the youth to feel a sense of community.  It helps them to find temporary relief from their everyday troubles that may be occurring within their lives.  Through some of the programs provided by the Guilford Recreation centre as well as Guildford Park Secondary school, many of the youth within these programs were able to make friends and participate in high quality recreation in their communities.   Through various research processes and key findings I was able to come upon four recommendations to help the staff at Guildford recreation centre find viable solutions for proposed research question.  The following research was conducted through a series of literature reviews, methodology research and first hand interviews with the staff at Guildford recreation centre.  Findings indicate that recreation can be a positive outlet which can aid in the acculturation process of immigrant adolescents. 


What are the benefits of Community Events in Rural Communities, and how can these events be designed to address feelings of not belonging among new community members? – Skylas Gormley

In terms of benefits of Community Events in Rural Communities, many of the benefits were shown to be similar to that of in Urban Communities. The major benefits include community engagement, entertainment for community members, socialization, and building community spirit. In rural communities, this can be highlighted even more, as people in the community often already know each other, so this is a great location for people to engage with members they may not know, or even just talk to people they may not see every day. In terms of designing these events to ensure that they address the feelings of not belonging, it was discovered that it may be hard to create events to deal with issues social isolation specifically. Instead, it would be better to create events that people are interested in, and ensure you break down barriers to allow everyone in the community to participate. These barriers can include socio-economic barriers, location barriers, or communication barriers. The most effective events to help deal with social isolation issues are the events that are free for participants, in a central location, and not intimidating for new people to come to, and engage in conversations with community members.


What factors attract youth to physical recreation activities over video games, and what adaptions/steps is Dunbar Community Centre doing to keep youth engaged? – Andrew Slater

This paper has allowed me to delve into an area which I think is extremely pertinent to modern living.  It is our job to attempt to do all we can to enable the youth to develop healthy living habits as they grow up and move into the world.  I certainly feel that Dunbar is doing a good job with their recreation centre thus far but there is always room for improvement.  The key question of my paper raised the issue of youths spending too much time playing video games and not being active enough.  The literature that I wrote about was striking, kids simply aren't active enough and one of the huge drawcords to this sedentary life is the concept of video games.  This means of fixing this, therefore, needs to be a blend of both how to make stagnant video games less appealing, and traditional activity more appealing.  It seems somewhat unrealistic to expect this phenomenon of making video games less appealing or them to vanish out of existence completely.  As such, the key lies within working with the video game industry and creating a healthy balance.  Four key recommendations made for Dunbar Community Centre were to expand marketing presence, Dunbar to involved investing in active video game hardware and software to integrate, thirdly, financials can be difficult but trying to have programs that some kids might not be able to attend otherwise, and lastly try and invest in more land space and building which is obviously more of a long term goal but is achievable.  


How can newly retired seniors within the Kerrisdale Community broaden their social participation through fitness programs? – Enoch Yiu

As seniors leave the workforce into retirement they may encounter many challenges financially, physically, mentally and socially. My research project focuses on the social participation of newly retired seniors within the Kerrisdale Community. The three fitness programs offered at Kerrisdale Community Centre that I examined in my project were: the UBC Changing Aging program, Osteofit, and Chair Yoga. These three fitness programs help seniors with this transition and provides an opportunity for them to “participate in social activities and fitness classes in an environment that promotes socialization with others in their age group” (Hamar, Coberley, Pope, & Rula, 2013). With the primary and secondary research that I have gathered, I was able to clearly distinguish what social participation is, clearly define newly retired seniors and who is considered a newly retired senior within the Kerrisdale Community. In the end, being able to identify seniors as they reach the retirement age was important in order to support them with their new transition in life with all the possible resources available so that they can be active within the community and enjoy recreation.


How Does the Britannia Community Services Centre Engage and Connect the Community Members and its Artists? – Kaleb Corbin

The Britannia Community Services Centre does a lot of work to engage and connect the community members and its artists. With the work of the Arts and Culture Committee where they plan out events and programs and services that will help the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood engage and connect to the artists. With events like their first annual Spring Equinox/Solstice Coffee house they are able to bring the community members together to engage and connect with the artists that live in the community as well as artists that are from outside of their community. Additionally having an art gallery in the Britannia Library and having new shows every month is another way the Britannia Community Services Centre is able to engage and connect the artists with the community members. Finally having classes where artists are also able to engage with their students and give back what they have learned from their teachers is another way the Britannia Community Services Centre is able to engage and connect their community members to their artists. 


What are the social effects of special events in an urban community, such as Yaletown, and do special events create a sense of belonging or identity within a community? – Krissy Golin

There are many positive social effects that result from implementing special events in an urban community. Planning and implementing special events require a substantial amount of energy, time and funds but remain as an imperative aspect to creating a sense of belonging an identity within one’s community. The success of community special events contributes from consistent support from other elements, also known as the organizations within the recreation system and also from passionate special event planners. Special events are unlike any other recreation program offered by recreation practitioners and without them, people could continue to feel loneliness and lack a strong sense of community if they were to be disregarded. They allow for opportunities for strong ties to be made with others in the community (Gursoy et al, 2004). Participating in special events provides a chance to forget about life demands and pressures, and is a chance to experience joy with the people in the neighbourhood where one can make new friends and build neighbourhood connections feel a strong sense of community. Memories made at special events are invaluable and priceless to those in the community.


“What are the barriers that prevent seniors from participating in leisure activities and how can Kensington Community Centre break down these barriers?” – Bradley Kuong

Recreation professionals need to be proactive in breaking down barriers in order for the seniors’ population to access leisure activities for health benefits. Findings in the primary research identified technology, language, transportation, and programs lacking “good deals” as the top barriers that prevent seniors from participating in leisure activities at Kensington Community Centre. Recommendations include organizing a mentorship program to break down the technology barrier by connecting seniors with youths or peers who are at a higher level of technology literacy. A Kensington shuttle bus system is a possible solution for aiding seniors who lack transportation methods. Including multiple languages in print material is a way to welcome non-English speaking seniors. Kensington Community Centre can create programs with “good deals” by using pricing strategies such as rewarding referrals and repeat customers, and issuing discounts by collaborating with financial assistance programs.  


“How can recreation organizations bridge the gap in programming for emerging adults, ages 18-25, through high quality recreation and leadership opportunities that meet their unique needs?” – Becca Stephen

Typically recreation organizations offer programs for preschool, children, youth, adult, and senior.  What they don’t tend to recognize is that adult programming spans 40 years and many life transitions, one of which occurs as youth transition to full adulthood.  This period in their life has been coined by Jeffrey Arnett as being Emerging Adulthood.  Through my research, I discovered that emerging adults are distinguished by 5 key features. They are: (1) Identity Exploration: a time of finding out  “who am I?” and experiencing a variety of life options, (2) Instability, in relationships, career and living environment, (3) Self-Focus as they turn to personal needs rather than needs of others because they are at a point in their life where their obligations to others are at an all-time low.  (4) Feeling in-between or in transition, as they feel they are neither an adolescent nor an adult; (5) Possibilities/Optimism, as dreams flourish and people have an unparalleled opportunity to transform their lives.  By understanding these key features and taking them into consideration when developing program, it generates better insight into what this generation of emerging adults requires from their recreation experiences to make them meaningful, and helps give direction to the program being developed.  I was able to connect all my research to make my recommendations based on each of these key characteristics. They are:

  • Identity Exploration
    Provide opportunities for emerging adults to explore who they are, what they want to do, and where they fit into the world.
  • Instability
    Provide opportunities that are short term and fit into their constantly changing schedules.
  • Self-Focus
    Provide skill building opportunities that allow emerging adults to gain skills they require not only now, but for the future.
  • Feeling of In-Between
    Provide opportunities that are outside the box and fulfill the desire for now or never experiences.
  • Possibilities for the future
    Provide opportunities for emerging adults to test out their dreams and check items off their bucket lists

How can the Regional District of Nanaimo increase and sustain therapeutic and inclusive recreation services to include children and youth with intellectual disabilities? – Cole Wight

The Regional District of Nanaimo can increase and sustain therapeutic and inclusive recreation services to include children and youth with intellectual disabilities through: offering more comprehensive inclusion training to all staff; extending IW’s services; highlighting inclusive services through promotion; partnering with experience organizations that can offer inclusive opportunities; providing hands-on training opportunities; and utilizing visual aids.