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UNBC researcher working toward boosting physical activity among youth in northern B.C.

Dr. Taru Manyanga, a UNBC faculty member, is pursuing a study to help promote youth physical activity (PA) in the region. ( Submitted photo)

Dr. Taru Manyanga, a UNBC faculty member, is leading a one-year study to tackle insufficient physical activity among rural youth in northern British Columbia.

Supported by a Michael Smith Health Research BC Convening and Collaborating Award, Manyanga and his team are trying to understand the barriers hindering youth physical activity and co-create sustainable interventions with community input.

The study prioritizes youth leadership, with workshops planned across the region to gather insights and preferences.

By including diverse voices and addressing inequities, the project aims to promote healthier lifestyles and inform future initiatives for youth physical activity promotion in northern BC.

“Insufficient physical activity is higher among rural youth, who are typically excluded from related research,” Manyanga said.

The study’s team members include representatives from Northern Health, Carrier Sekani Family Services, local community, and UNBC.

“A critical part of this project is inviting and providing opportunities for youth to take leadership roles in developing and promoting PA programs, as well as advocating for policies and initiatives that support their sustained participation in regular physical activity,” Manyanga said.

Dr. Manyanga and his team will be hosting a series of brainstorming workshops across the region this year.

The first of these workshops was held in Prince George at the end of March. Similar sessions will follow in the northeast and northwest later this year.

“In this project, we want to put youth voices at the centre of this important conversation, so they can tell us themselves what they would like to see in terms of physical activity programming. What activities appeal to their age groups and are these, for example, mostly sport-based, land-based, recreational or a mix?

“In deciding which activities, we would like youth to consider being inclusive of different abilities, gender and other circumstances that tend to disadvantage others.”

The workshops will bring youth together with decision makers, northern researchers and community-based organizations engaged in physical activity promotion in northern B.C., generating potential solutions for the region and beyond.

“We hope that the results from this study will be used to create feasible and sustainable interventions for promoting youth physical activity, as well as informing further research and bringing people together for a common PA agenda in the north,” he said.