Creating a Community that is Active for Life

This article was originally published in the resource Aboriginal Communities: Active for Life. This resource aims to help our children and youth across the country enjoy long, healthy, happy, and good lives. This work seeks to address the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and serves as a tool for addressing fundamental rights of Indigenous Peoples—the right to health, the right to education, the right to culture, and the right to play.

Written as a first-person narrative, the reader follows the stories of Taylor, a fictional Aboriginal sport leader. All characters are fictional, but represent the voices of many of the people that we have heard from throughout the country throughout the development of this resource.

We want our communities to be well and active. However, to do that, and to create quality experiences in sport and activity, we have to take care of the five key points: Fun, With Purpose, Everyone Included and Participant Centred, Always Moving, and Progressive and Challenging.

If you want to make a difference in your community, start simply. I recommend that you try just one or two new ideas at a time—you don’t have to try to change everything in your coaching or programming at once. Over time, you can build on what works well, and you will still be delivering quality programming.

If you would like to get others in your community involved, the next section will help get you started.

First, I map out a plan for action. There are five steps to work through:

  • Step 1 – Create a vision for your program.
  • Step 2 – Complete a community scan of the people, places, and programs that already exist, and of those that you would like to exist.
  • Step 3 – Plan, activate, and evaluate – Use a planning worksheet to map out the work.
  • Step 4 – Reflect on your progress and next steps.

Step 1: Create a vision

Step 2: Complete a scan of the people, places, and programs in your community.

Look at the Quality Sport figure.
What programs are being offered in your community?

Who are the people that make sport and activity happen in your community? Each person has their own unique journey and experiences to share.

What places, facilities, and spaces exist to support sport and activity?

Table 1: Community scan of the people, places, programs that will help you. By filling it out, you can see the strengths and opportunities that exist in your community. This information will help you in your planning.

People

Community programming often relies on a small number of passionate individuals in order to be successful. We often need to ask more people to help by getting the support of the broader community. It is too much work for a few people to undertake, especially for a longer period of time. We don’t want to tire ourselves out, and we want this work to continue so that there are lots of good things happening in our community.

Goals:

  • To have each individual see themselves as important contributors to physical activity and health in our community.
  • To consider others in the community who can contribute.
  • To set the stage for more physical activity to happen and to inspire others to get involved. Who else would you like to invite to join the sport and activity team in your community?

Places

The next area to consider is where your program(s) will take place. Sometimes we think we can’t be active if we don’t have a large gymnasium and a lot of equipment, but we can be active almost anywhere, anytime, with little or no equipment.

Think about all of the different places where you might deliver an activity. Keeping safety in mind, think of some activities you could offer in these locations:

  • In a classroom or living room
  • On a playground
  • In an arena or park
  • In nature or on the land
  • In a gymnasium
  • On ice or snow
  • In the water
  • With a mobility issue
  • With an intellectual disability
  • With no equipment

As you can see, when you scan the local programs in your community, you can identify opportunities to increase or expand your programming. One important question to ask is, ‘Who is NOT coming to my programs?’

I have talked about what a positive, quality sport and activity experience looks like. In the next section, we will look at a checklist to help with your planning so your programs can follow a similar path and achieve success.

Step 3: Plan, activate, and evaluate worksheet

Now that I have a vision and know the people, places, and programs in my community, the next step is to look at how I move this forward. This involves making a plan, activating it, and evaluating it as time goes by. The following page has the worksheet that I use.

Question to Consider: Has this program been done before? If so, what happened and how can you learn from it?

Check out the program vision.

Plan

What action will you undertake to move toward your Vision? You can list as many actions as you want.

Activate

For each action, include the outcome you hope to achieve, who is responsible and who can help, the other resources you may need, and when you want it to happen by.

Evaluate

Did you meet your targets and how will you know if your program is successful in the longer term (e.g. in six months, two years, five years)?

Step 4: Reflect

Take time to celebrate the work that you have done to move forward. Appreciate the people you connected with along the way and the difference you are making in your community. As this work continues, take time to reflect on the steps you have taken, the lessons you have learned, and growth you have made.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What lessons did you learn?
  2. What would you do the same next time?
  3. What would you do differently?

>> Read Aboriginal Communities: Active for Life

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