As Sport for Life worked with Aboriginal peoples over the past few years, it came to light that the term First Contact had negative connotations within their cultures. In the spirit of Kaizen (continuous improvement), Sport for Life engaged Aboriginal leaders and leaders in disability sport across Canada to get suggestions on what an appropriate term would be. First Involvement was the agreed upon term that would be accepted, and has subsequently been used in all materials. We are now actively promoting this as the term and want to support organizations in transitioning their materials as the opportunities arise to utilize this term to be inclusive of all participants going forward.
The First Involvement stage is the stage that promotes a positive first experience for participants who are trying an activity for the first time. By creating a welcoming and supportive environment, it is more likely that an individual will continue to be involved in sport, recreation and physical activity. In this stage, it is important to develop confidence and motivation through positive experiences, leading to the desire to continue participation.
The Awareness Stage and First Involvement stages are about understanding the range of available opportunities for sport and physical activity, including knowing how to get involved and then providing a positive first experience to foster continuing in an activity. These stages were initially developed to articulate that for individuals with a disability, there needed to be another way to enter the Long-Term Athlete Development pathway, however, it is now becoming apparent that these two additional stages play a role for many populations.
Those who have not been active previously, or for an extended period of times, as well as those who have a disability or cultural barrier to participating, may not understand or appreciate that there are many places for them to start in sport and physical activity. Individuals who acquire a disability generally experience great change and transition and some of their previous physical activities may no longer be as they were. Individuals who are new to Canada or who come from diverse backgrounds where they were not introduced to sport and physical activity in the same way as many Canadians are, need additional supports and awareness campaigns to showcase the opportunities available to them.