The Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA) is an international body that aims to better understand, report and harmonise how nation states determine the physical activity levels of children and youth. To this end, countries are invited to participate in this 'Global Matrix' to create national Report Cards reflecting the state of play of their own child and youth populations. In 2016, Dr. Shawnda A. Morrison established the research working group Active Health Kids Slovenia whose mandate is to create the Slovenian National Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth, and engage with public stakeholders advocating for greater physical activity opportunities for children at the national level.
Global comparisons of child physical activity are led by Dr. Mark Tremblay, Director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (HALO-CHEO) through the AHKGA website here.
The original research work for the first Slovenian Report Card (2016) was assembled with representation of 4 faculties from 2 Slovenian Universities: University of Primorska and University of Ljubljana. Representation was also secured from the Slovenian Olympic Committee, an elementary school board Headmaster, and Slovenia’s National Institute for Public Health. Thus, the original research group members consisted of: Shawnda A. Morrison1, Gregor Starc2, Vedrana Sember1, Gregor Jurak2, Marjeta Kovač2, Mojca Golobič3, Poljanka Pavletič Samardžija4, Mojca Gabrijelčič5, Marko Primožič6, Primož Kotnik7, Tjaša Kotar8 in Janet Klara Djomba9. 1 University of Primorska, Faculty for mathematics, , Natural sciences and Information Technologies, 2 University of Ljubljana, Faculty of sports, 3University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty, 4 Slovenian Olympic Comitee, 5 National Institute of Public Health, 6 Elementary School Ivana Groharja Škofja Loka, 7 Pediatric clinic Ljubljana, 8 Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, 9 University of Ljubljana, Medical Faculty.
Results from Slovenia's first Report Card (2016, Global Matrix 2.0)
Of all countries participating, Slovenia reported the highest grade (A-) for Overall Physical Activity: 86 per cent of boys and 76 per cent of girls 6-to-18 years old get the recommended 60 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per day. What’s driving this behaviour is likely due to the strong physical education tradition in Slovenia’s school system (A in School) – it’s a cultural norm, evaluated on an annual basis, and so well established that it provides appropriate measures to deal with overall inactivity levels occuring in other facets of daily life. Indeed, Slovenian primary schools offer access to 77 minutes of in-school physical activity per day combining compulsory PE classes and other compusory physical activities (schools in nature, sport days...), and voluntary extracurricular physical activities, organised in schools--making it one of the best examples of PE pedagogical practice globally.
It was found that countries who reported having the most physically active children and youth overall, including Slovenia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, relied on very different approaches to get kids to moving, but what was consistent between was that physical activity is driven by pervasive cultural norms. In other words, being physically-active is habit forming for the whole society!
Read the full, open access publication here.
Slovenia's second Report Card (2018, Global Matrix 3.0)
Developing a stand-out Report Card occurs over approximately 12 months, including the establishing cooperation between research institutions, assembling experts from different backgrounds related to childhood PA, data sources identification, data collection and synthesis, and, finally, a critical assessment of the data amassed to identify and grade all 9 PA indicators. Indicators include: 1) Overall Physical Activity, 2) Organized Sport Participation, 3) Active Play, 4) Active Transport, 5) Sedentary Behavior, 6) Family and Peers, 7) Schools, 8) Community and the Built Environment, and 9) Government Strategies and Investments. Feedback from AHKGA Canada is given for each country's Report Card development before the Slovenian team meets again to discuss the literature, data sources, and future literature review strategies. Meetings generally follow approximately once every second month to identify any weaknesses in literature and data sources.
Following the success of the 2016 model, AHKS prepared its second Report Card for Global Matrix 3.0, which was launched at an international conference in Adelaide, Australia. You can find all materials, including the full report card, available on the national website of AHKGA here.
Active Healthy Kids Slovenia- Future works and vision
The work of AHKS continues. We continue to advocate for strong child physical activity opportunities nationwide. We are busy preparing the third iteration of the Report Card grades for the 2109-2020 epoch, an exceptional time in global health which finds all societies battling to stay active and physically fit. For information on how SLOfit researchers have been working to keep people active during the time of a global pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 tab above, or read more on the SLOfit Barometer here.