How I Endorsed Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement


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By Gary Shelton

Are you a Canadian physical literacy champion like me? If so, you hopefully participated in the effort to unite Canadians behind a single physical literacy definition. You’ll also hopefully know about the presentation of the “Vancouver Declaration on Physical Literacy” at the International Physical Literacy Conference 2015 (IPLC2015) on June 14, 2015.

Maybe you’re also one of the supporters who physically and/or electronically signed the Declaration. I did!

I physically signed the Declaration while at IPLC2015, not for the chance to win a Fitbit (as was offered by ParticipACTION), but because I believe in Sport for Life (S4L) and that being active for life is based upon being physically literate.

I signed because I saw that having several definitions of physical literacy in use in Canada would not serve our work well in the long run.

I signed knowing we’ve a long way to go. Knowing that all too often we stop when we have all the right words in the right order. That we stop when we’ve made it look great with graphics. That we stop once it’s been accepted by the powers that be. And knowing that we stop once we’ve placed the “finished” product on the shelf and move on to the next project. I signed knowing the work has just begun.

One of my first thoughts after signing the Declaration was that my support for Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement was a personal endorsement and not the endorsement of the Edmonton Sport Council (ESC) as an organization! In my opinion, a ratification of my Board was an essential step and that once ratified, that the Consensus Statement was the one and only physical literacy definition the ESC would use.

My second thought was that I had to let others know about the Declaration.

So what have I done about this?

First, I immediately emailed the Chairperson of the Edmonton Sport Council and recommended that the matter be placed on the June 22 Board meeting for discussion with a recommendation for ratification (note, the ratification was unanimous).

Second, I ensured that information as to the Consensus Statement was communicated through an Edmonton Sport Council e-news to our subscribers and placed on I’m proud to state that this has resulted in many other organizations providing their own circulation of the Declaration.

Third, I informed all the PLAY GREAT (Physical Literacy And You: GReater Edmonton Area Team) partners (individuals and organizations) of the Declaration and encouraged them to officially ratify it.

Fourth, I have advocated the utilization of the Consensus Statement within major Edmonton initiatives which are in development.

Moving forward, I’m going to continue my efforts of creating a physical literate society.

What are you going to do?

Whatever you do, I encourage you to please use Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement. Too much work has gone on for us not to come together.

Second, if you haven’t, please begin by endorsing the Consensus Statement as an individual electronically at Even better, have your organization formally adopt it.

Then determine your next step(s) of helping to create a physically literate society.

Gary Shelton

Gary Shelton is the Executive Director of the Edmonton Sport Council. A Sport for Life champion, he co-authored “Becoming a Canadian Sport for Life Community” with Vicki Harber. Gary is a key motivator behind PLAY GREAT which was initiated by the Edmonton Sport Council to help create the partnerships necessary to increase the physical literacy of residents and advance the state of sport in the Edmonton Region, including sport participation levels.

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