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Better Beginnings Better Futures

South-East Ottawa
Summary Report

PACT - Parents and Children Together was developed to encourage physical activity amongst children and their caregivers. The PACT project followed an initiative called Play for Life which was developed within the Better Beginnings Better Futures community to increase the physical activity of preschool children. Focused physical activity had not been a priority within the community until a research study done by the Better Beginnings Better Futures Research Coordination Unit (Kingston, Ontario) indicated that over one-fifth of four year old children in the community were overweight by age four. This did not mean that children living in the neighbourhoods were eating too much overall or eating too much fat. Research findings using a 24 hour dietary recall did not indicate this. Since children’s fat intake was not excessive, an important factor to be considered was physical activity. Play for Life was begun to explore and implement innovative approaches to increasing physical activity and aptitude in preschool children to promote optimal child development and life long physical activity. The PACT program followed, building on Play for Life successes and encouraging parents and caregivers to participate in fun, safe physical activity with their children.

PACT began in January 2006. Funding was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion - ACTIVE 2010.

PACT partners:

South-East Ottawa Centre for a Healthy Community - served on the project advisory committee and provided assistance with program administration.

Albion/Heatherington Tenant’s Association - served on the project advisory committee and provided consultation and space for community programming.

Andrew Fleck Child Care Services - served on the project advisory committee and assisted with program delivery including play in the park activities and training.

City of Ottawa (Albion Heatherington Recreation Centre) - served on the project advisory committee and provided space for activities.

Better Beginnings Better Futures, Ottawa, Ontario, - provided leadership for the planning, implementation and evaluation of the program.


PACT - Parents and Children Together provides opportunities for parents/caregivers and young children to be physically active together. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to "Make a PACT with your child" to get out, be physically active and have fun.

PACT is made up of various activities to be accessible to the wide range of families living in the Better Beginnings neighbourhoods. Specific activities are geared to pregnant women (and pregnant women with other young children), and parents/caregivers with infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Activities have included: Snuggle Moves for pregnant women and women with young children which included walks and gentle exercise on mats with infants; Walk With Me for all parents/caregivers and children provided group walks and excursions throughout the community; Get Active focused on in-door activities for interactive physical activities between adults and young children numerous times weekly; Home visits were provided to assist parents with safe, fun activities within their home and Play in the Park activities focused on seasonal outdoor acitvities for parents/caregivers and children.

PACT programming is free of charge and available to any family with a young child living in the Better Beginnings neighbourhoods, supporting access and eliminating stigma. Programs are offered in homes and in local indoor and outdoor neighbourhood spaces therefore requiring no transportation and supporting easy access.

In-home visits connected with isolated families often providing ideas that could be integrated into daily living. Initial in-home visits identified isolated families that required additional support to access programming outside the home. The PACT worker was available to bring families to community programming and parks.

A flexible approach, creative ideas and individualized programming when required respected cultural diversity, family settings and physical ability. This supported a wider range of families accessing and participating in the program.

While PACT programming was “focused” it did not “target” specific families. Instead it was available to all children in the Better Beginnings neighbourhoods ensuring that no child, parent or family felt stigmatized.

In addition to activities for parents/caregivers and children, PACT provided training to staff of both Better Beginnings and Andrew Fleck Child Care Services to ensure staff and local in-home child care providers could support safe, age appropriate, interactive physical activities for children and adults.

Information flyers and newsletter inserts highlighted the importance of physical activity and provided ideas for interactive physical recreational and play activities.

Evaluation of the project indicates success. On a scale of 1 - not at all, 3 - somewhat, 5 - completely, when asked "How satisfied were you with the program?", 85% of respondents gave a rating of 5, 10% a rating of 4 and 5% a rating of 3. Participant feedback indicated that participants spent more time in physical activity with their children after joining the PACT program with 60% (up from 45% before being involved with the program) indicating that they spent time daily in interactive physical activity with their child(ren). When asked "Have you benefited from the program?" 95% gave a rating of 5 (completely) and 5% gave a rating of 3 (somewhat).

Evaluations from trainees at workshops were consistently excellent.