Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Science




Gilliland, Jason A.


Physical activity is an important component of children’s health and development; however, a majority of Canadian children are not meeting the physical activity recommendations. This thesis aimed to identify the factors that influenced children’s enrollment and participation in a free community-based physical activity program, the Grade 5 ACT-i-Pass (G5AP). This thesis consisted of two individual, but interrelated studies. First, focus groups with G5AP participants were used to explore the factors that influenced children’s perceived physical activity levels and participation in the program. Second, a spatially-targeted promotional campaign was developed and implemented to help evaluate the impact of promotions on program registrations, with particular interest in low-uptake areas of London, Ontario. The results indicated that various aspects of accessibility affected children’s involvement in the program. Findings from this thesis provide suggestions for future research, as well as implications for caregivers, policymakers, program co-ordinators and health care professionals for future health promotion initiatives.

Summary for Lay Audience

Low physical activity levels among Canadian children is a public health concern, as most children (ages five to 11 years) and youth (ages 12 to 17 years) are not attaining the recommended amount of physical activity. Community-based interventions have become a popular health promotion strategy for supporting health behaviour change at a population-level. This thesis examined the Grade 5 ACT-i-Pass Program (G5AP), a community-based physical activity initiative in London, Ontario, to investigate the factors that influence children’s involvement in a free physical activity program.

This thesis consisted of two interrelated manuscripts. First, this thesis explored children’s experiences and perceptions of their involvement in the G5AP. An analysis of G5AP focus groups (n=101) was used to investigate children’s perceived physical activity levels, and factors that acted as barriers or enablers to program use. This thesis also described the influence of a promotional campaign on the number of grade five children (n=4,701) that registered for the G5AP. A combination of spatial analysis and statistical tests were used to examine the change in the registration rates from the pre-campaign year (2018-2019) to the campaign year (2019-2020).

Overall, findings reveal that the accessibility of the program affected children’s enrollment and use of the G5AP. Children’s participation in physical activity opportunities could be influenced by three forms of accessibility: geographic accessibility (i.e., distance to recreational facilities and transportation options), economic accessibility (i.e., cost of transportation and lack of local recreational opportunities), and information accessibility (i.e., quality and quantity of informative resources). The G5AP promotional campaign effectively increased the registration rate of the program, with children that received both passive (i.e., posters and advertisements) and active (i.e., presentations) forms of recruitment having the greatest increase in registrations. Thus, findings contribute to the understanding of information accessibility and engagement in community-based health initiatives. Future research regarding all three types of accessibility must be considered when implementing interventions to provide accessible programming to all groups in the target population.