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Coming Together to Create a More Physically Literate Community

by Shanine Sealey

Physical activity is an important part of everyone’s lives, and for the past year, the City of Martensville has been working alongside Saskatchewan In Motion and Partners for Physical Literacy in order to ensure that the community is more Physically Literate. Physical Literacy can be defined in numerous ways; however, is often described as providing children with the opportunity to develop the skills, confidence and love of movement to be physically active for life. For Angie Reddekopp, City of Martensville Program Coordinator, there are several components involved when it comes to physical literacy; motivation, confidence, competence, knowledge and awareness. “For me, it is all of these things together that defines physical literacy and makes you a physically literate person.”

Throughout the past year, there have been focus groups, surveys and research done and most recently, a ‘Moving Together Symposium’ was held at North Ridge Community Centre. The purpose of all of this is to work together to see what can be done to increase the physical literacy within the community. The symposium ran from 9:00am – 3:30pm and consisted of numerous presentations, guest speakers and a workshop. The workshop was broken down into four main topics; understanding and awareness of physical literacy, schools as a hub, sports and recreation, and outdoor unstructured opportunities. “We broke those four areas down and talked about what we are doing well, where we can see improvements and what changes we can implement,” Reddekopp explained. Approximately 55 people attended the October 25th event, ranging from provincial representatives, regional representatives, community leaders, business owners, students, parents, educators, protective services, service groups and more. “It was so great that we had such a wide spectrum of people in the community come out. The day was amazing and there was so much positive conversation and so many people that really seemed to want to step up and work,” Reddekopp said.

Representatives from Saskatchewan In Motion (SIM) were in attendance for the symposium and are now compiling the results in order to create a community profile for Martensville. From there, they will schedule meetings with some of the informal committees that were created at the symposium and work with members of the community to increase the physical literacy of the community.

As a group of parents, teachers and communities working together, SIM typically works at encouraging children to become more active. “Basically, kids these days don’t move a lot. We have engineered a lot of physical activity out of our lives. We are worried about safety, there is screen time and other issues that are taking away from the physical activity that kids should be getting,” Kim Herperger, Communication Strategist for SIM, stated. Herperger also noted that in Saskatchewan, less than 15% of children are active enough to meet the national guidelines; a fact that many find hard to believe. The partnership with Martensville is a new approach for SIM, and Herperger notes that, “the whole idea of this is that if you as a child don’t learn some of the basic skills and become comfortable in moving your body, you are much less likely to do that as an adult and so throughout life you aren’t going to be as active.”

Not only is being active good for you physically, but it is also good for your brain. It can help you feel more alert, more open to learning and more. Often physical literacy is thought of as something that comes from schools and organized sports; however, encouraging children to be more active outside and to different environments, allowing them to explore and play can be a huge benefit to their physical literacy. “Kids require approximately 60 minutes of movement each day to be healthier and happier, so we have a model that is called 30-30-30; 30 minutes at school, 30 minutes at home and 30 minutes in the community most days. By doing this, they will meet those requirements; however, it is not just up to one person or one organization to encourage that. We all need to work together in order to ensure that our youth is physically active and physically literate.”

Following the symposium, the next step is taking information discussed and implementing it into the community. Beginning this week, there are plans to collaborate with the local schools to evaluate students in Grades 4 to 8 on their physical literacy. “We are zeroing in on activities that would give you the confidence and competence to participate in any kind of activity as you get older. If you don’t have those basic skills, you aren’t going to feel motivated and confident to do them later in life,” added Reddekopp. Come May, another evaluation will be done to see if work done throughout the school year has increased their ability to perform tasks such as throwing, catching, balance, hopping, skipping, etc.

Another symposium is set to take place in the spring, and will be open to anyone wishing to attend.

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