North Shore champions physical literacy

It’s been just over nine months since West Vancouver and Bowen Island committed to introduce physical literacy learning to their communities, and one of the project leads can’t believe the progress that’s been made in such a short time.

“When we started the project, right away we identified that we need some common language. That was one of our first steps, was to offer the Sport for Life Physical Literacy 101 workshop so our staff and community could become educated on how this initiative can impact the community,” said Erin Black of Vancouver Coastal Health.

“From there we had the further conversations about what can we do individually, and what can we do as a collective? What is each sector doing, what do they hope to do, and how can we cross-pollinate?”

The North Shore project was one of nine recipients selected to take part in Physical Literacy for Communities, an initiative of the BC Physical Activity Strategy supported by the Province of British Columbia, and intended for communities with populations of less than 190,000. Each successful project receives $50,000 over a two-year period to go towards leadership, education, training, and mentorship. The goal is to work towards physical literacy goals through a multi-sector community approach, leading to increased physical activity which positively impacts the health and well-being of British Columbians.

“It was a very timely opportunity for us. It’s been a perfect storm of people and time and energy,” said Black.

One example of the work being done was the professional development day hosted in October 2018, which involved two school districts that hadn’t worked together in the past. It included representatives from the health, sport, and education sectors, and was focused exclusively on physical literacy.

“It’s quite extraordinary to have a full-day session on one topic like that,” said Black.

She was pleased to report the bridge-building that’s been happening, with local sports organizations getting together to collaborate on future initiatives. They’ve been working with the municipality to brainstorm further ways they can make the population more active through partnership.

“We’re hoping this could be a model throughout the world. We’re looking forward to a place where the doctor actually prescribes physical activity that is effectively supported and delivered in the community. It’s a cultural shift,” she said.

And though she feels they have a ways to go, she’s happy with the progress so far.

“I’ve worked in a lot of communities, I’ve seen a lot happen, but there seems to be so much more momentum in this North Shore project. I’m excited to see where this journey will take us.”

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