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Kids in government care need to be active: report

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A recently released study shows that kids in government care who are active are generally the healthiest kids in care.

The report, produced by the McCreary Centre Society, indicated foster kids who move infrequently are also less likely to engage in risky behaviour like experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

"We know that young people who enter the care system are among the most vulnerable in the province, and have often experienced trauma, abuse and loss," said Annie Smith, executive director of McCreary Centre Society.

Youth counsellor Nicole McRae echoed the findings in the report adding that the healthiest kids in care are the ones who are moved around infrequently and are regularly interacting with teachers, counsellors and mentors.

One of the challenges McRae, a Sea to Sky Community Services employee for five years, comes up against in her work is the high cost of living here.

"Housing in our corridor is the number one factor," said McRae.

"It is unaffordable," McRae said of housing for the young independent-living clients she works with. "It takes 90 per cent of what they receive a month to pay for a roof over their head. Now tell me how you're going to fit a recreation budget into that."

The lack of affordable, accessible recreation in Squamish and Whistler is huge because that is another protective factor these kids don't have access to," said McRae.

There are no places for kids to go seven days a week, she said, unless they have lots of money.

Statistics provided by the Ministry of Children and Family Development show that 41 kids in Squamish and Whistler were in the care of the ministry in December. Across the province, more than 8,500 kids are in the care of the provincial government.

The report used data from a province-wide adolescent health study of 1,000 B.C. students in government care in 2008, and was funded by the Children and Families Ministry.

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