What is physical literacy? In December, 50 leaders from Kingston’s education, health, organized sport, and recreation sectors came together to participate in a workshop that focused on just that. It would sound all too familiar if I said that when learning to read, you start with your ABCs; when learning music, you start with do-re-mi; and when learning numeracy, you start with 123s. These skill-based literacies are well recognized, taught, and practiced in society. Likewise, equipping children and youth with fundamental movement skills opens the door to being active for life. Learning movement vocabulary, sequences, and tasks are instrumental in becoming physically literate.

By definition, physical literacy is “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life” (International Physical Literacy Association, May 2014). I was among the community members present at the workshop – some of us familiar with the term physical literacy, all of us keen to learn how we can better incorporate it into the work we do.

The facilitator, Ted Temertzoglou, kept us active, engaged, having fun, and reflecting on the purpose of each exercise.  We were also lead by Shelley Mulrooney in a DANCEPL3Y session, which got us all moving through dance.  As a Kingston Gets Active volunteer I may be biased, but I thought it was pretty neat to see a group of adults exploring fundamental movement skills through dance, circuit progressions, and purposeful games. All of the exercises we explored aim to create a positive experience for children and youth by building confidence, accuracy, creativity, and awareness while moving and having fun. This is imperative for participation in physical activity as research demonstrates when children and youth have positive experiences, they are more likely to stay active for their lifetime.

With our community leaders better versed in physical literacy, they are better able to shape their respective programs to create a quality experience for children and youth. It was a day full of learning and fun that provided us with new resources, techniques and knowledge for helping children and youth gain competency in multi-environment movement skills. Our similar yet unique backgrounds allowed idea-sharing to flourish as we all considered ways to integrate these principles in practice. The opportunity this workshop provided to have coaches, physical educators, generalist teachers, childcare or early years educators, and recreation or fitness leaders all in one room is invaluable. Our community can continue to enrich activities with a common language and goal, moving beyond physical literacy basics. I have no doubt community leaders will continue many more conversations about physical literacy through 2017, and the exciting ways it can create a quality experience for our children and youth.

Thanks to support provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, RBC Learn to Play Project, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and ParticipACTION.

– Read more about the Physical Literacy Workshop in this Kingston Whig Standard article.

Find out more about what is happening with Physical Literacy in Kingston.

– Workshop facilitators:

Ted Temertzoglou 

Ted taught Health and Physical Education in the Toronto District School Board for 20 years, at East York Collegiate and in the Birchmount Exceptional Athlete Program (BEAP). He is Vice President of Teacher and Student Success at Thompson Educational Publishing specializing in

learning resources for Health and Physical Education for teachers, students and parents, K-12. He is a certified personal trainer with The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologist; trained athletes of all stages of development and conducts workshops on Physical Literacy and Athlete Development around the world.

Shelley Mulrooney 

Shelley has been an elementary teacher with the Limestone District School Board for the past 22 years. She has taught Health and Physical Education to students in K-8 and has coached all elementary sports throughout her career. She is currently on secondment to the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University where she teaches the Primary/Junior Health and Phys. Ed. curriculum course as well as Dance. This allows her to share her passion for helping all students lead healthy active lives with pre-service teachers as they begin their journey into teaching. As a certified DANCEPL3Y ED instructor, Shelley helps students and teachers explore fundamental movement skills through a playful approach to dance that promotes physical literacy for all.

Thanks to Taylor Jennings, Kingston Gets Active volunteer ambassador, for contributing this article!

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