Summer Camp Research Update – Ms. Mary Secco

Ms. Mary Secco and her team at the Epilepsy Support Centre have been offering a summer camp program to children with epilepsy and their siblings for the past 10 years. The majority of parents using the camp describe their child with epilepsy as ‘socially isolated’, ‘inactive’ and ‘often reluctant’ to participate in sports and recreation. For this reason, Ms. Secco and her team added an 8-week physical literacy curriculum to the summer camp, which teaches children to be capable, confident and motivated to use basic movement and sports skills in new situations. They chose to add the Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE) curriculum because it has been proven effective for improving coordination, movement skills, posture, balance, and confidence.

To see whether the added curriculum was effective within the summer camp, Ms. Secco and her team recorded parent feedback, daily observations and the results of standard skills testing. The Physical Literacy Assessment Tool for Youth (PLAY) was used to assess children’s physical skills both pre- and post- camp. For the study, thirteen children aged 4-12 attended all 8 weeks and were included in the analyses. Overall, there was an average of 30% improvement in physical skills, including object handling, balance, walking and running.

Based on these findings, Epilepsy Support Centre expanded their program and now offer a 2-hour recreation program on Saturday mornings, all year round. The goal of this program is to promote movement, sports skills, and ultimately inclusion, for children with epilepsy. For more information about this program, please visit www.epilepsysupport.ca/services/gameon.

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