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Connecting Recreation and Resiliency in Children

Key Message

The study showed improvement in core character traits such as adaptability and social connectedness in children participating in recreation programs across Canada.


Resiliency Initiatives, Parks and Recreation Ontario, and HIGH FIVE. (2014). Resiliency and Recreation Summary Report. Calgary, AB: Resiliency Initiatives.


This research report was conducted by Resiliency Initiatives, in partnership with Parks and Recreation Ontario and its HIGH FIVE® Standard for children’s sport and recreation. It provides much-needed data to support the link between resiliency in children and positive recreation experiences.


  • Results show that nearly 90% of the 103 participants in recreation programs demonstrated Strengths-Based Aptitude on the post assessment, with 4 of these participants moving from vulnerability to strength.
  • Improvements in Emotional Competence scores indicates that, in addition to natural maturing processes, recreation programs played a role in enhancing the emotional awareness, sensitivity and resilience of participants. Nearly three quarters of participants who completed a PRE and POST reported this area as a strength, with 7 of the 103 participants moving from Vulnerability to Strength in terms of being aware of their feelings, behaviours and showing sensitivity to the experience and concerns of others. 
  • Social Connectedness showed as the most significant strength for program participants, with 100 reporting this capacity on the PRE assessment and all 103 (100%) on the POST. This increase following the completion of their program indicates that the experience positively impacted student’s relationships and sense of connection to others in their life. Every one of the 103 students reported this area as a strength. 
  • Improved Moral Directedness scores following the completion of the recreation programs suggests that they were effective in mitigating fear and isolation while allowing participants to turn their attention to values based awareness and decision making. Of the 103 participants who completed both a PRE and POST assessment, 99% scored Moral Directedness as a strength on the POST, with 3 students moving out of vulnerability in this area. 
  • Adaptability was the Character Trait that showed the most significant improvement with 8 participants moving from ‘Vulnerability’ to ‘Strength’ in this area. Nearly 90% of students who completed both a PRE and POST assessment reported this area as a strength on the POST assessment. Moreover, 42% of the potential for positive development in Adaptability was realized. 
  • With regards to Managing Ambiguity (coping skills), the data indicate that recreation programs helped participants to maintain this area as a strength, contributing to their ability to manage uncertainty in their lives and, as a result, to increase feelings of confidence and decrease anxiety. Over 90 of the 103 students who completed both a PRE and POST assessment reported this area as a strength, with one student moving from vulnerability to capacity.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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