Poco Active makes physical literacy a priority by engaging health sector

It was the best idea he’d heard in a long time.

Ryan Clark is the executive director of the Poco Sport Alliance, so he’s not a fresh face to sport management. But when his community was selected as part of the Physical Literacy for Communities-British Columbia Initiative (PL4C-BC) in 2018, he was thrilled by the idea of teaming up with the Fraser Health Authority. In the past the Health Authority hadn’t been directly connected with Sport Alliance work, so he was curious to see what they could bring to the table, and vice versa.

“We were already networked well with the city and school district, so communication could happen quickly and we were already meeting regularly. We were starting to look into new areas outside the sport and recreation realm, and that’s when someone suggested we connect with Fraser Health and their partners,” said Clark, who is the lead spokesperson for Poco Active.

“I was absolutely blown away by what they brought to the table. Their stakeholders allowed us to think outside our own boxes. It evolved in a very positive way. They’ve far surpassed expectations. I always want them at the table because they bring a whole new lens, and they’ve really improved our capital planning.”

Poco Active is now two years into their PL4C-BC project, and it’s flourished in ways that Clark couldn’t have even imagined. They’ve directed their focus on hands-on engagement programs and initiatives, with a stated goal of “Strengthening our culture of active living”.

“For us, a big part is education. We want to be giving readily available skill sets via workshops and communication tools to people who lead programs for participants of all ages. Our city recreation staff, for instance, now have PL101: An Introduction to Physical Literacy as part of their on-boarding.”

And this work is being done just in time for a new $132 million recreation complex, one that will need effective programming to keep Port Coquitlam residents active.

“What great timing when we’re opening this new facility and going through capital planning. I’ve been thinking ‘what are the programs that can go into these facilities with physical literacy front and centre?’”

Recently he attended a PL501: Inclusive Physical Literacy workshop put on by Sport for Life, which was led by wheelchair basketball Olympian Marni Abbott-Peter. Having been familiar with her work for years, he was still astounded by the session. He believes the work she’s doing to foster accessibility and inclusion is essential, and he’d like to see that ideal permeating everything they do.

“Call it programs or drills or activities, anything we can do to make things more inclusive is incredibly important,” he said.

Now that they’ve reached the end of their two-year PL4C-BC funding, Poco Active has no plans to quit their work. Instead they will be building on it, to see the positive outcomes waiting for them.

“This program has enhanced what we do in an invaluable way. I want to thank Sport for Life for selecting us for the PL4C-BC Initiative, and I hope we’ll stay connected for a long time.”

To learn more about Poco Active visit their website.


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