Physical Literacy

Physical Literacy - Motivation

What is Physical Literacy?

Physical Literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activity for life.”International Physical Literacy Association, 2014.


Why is Physical Literacy important?

Movement is fundamental to health and development, and our children need to learn how to walk before they can run. Many children fall behind in learning basic movement skills for a number of reasons.  Physical literacy training addresses the need for a return to basic, and helps make learning movement fun and meaningful in a way that promotes feelings of success, self-esteem and accomplishment. These skills will motivate and empower youth to build positive connections to movement for their whole life.

Some statistics taken from the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth (2016), which further emphasize the importance of being physically active:

  • Only 9% of Canadian kids aged 5 to 17 get the 60 minutes of heart-pumping activity they need each day.
  • Only 24% of 5 to 17 year-olds meet the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommendation of no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time per day.
  • In recent decades, children’s nightly sleep duration has decreased by about 30 to 60 minutes. Every hour kids spend in sedentary activities delays their bedtime by 3 minutes and the average 5 to 17 year-old Canadian spends 8.5 hours being sedentary each day.
  • 33% of Canadian children aged 5 to 13, and 45% of youth aged 14 to 17, have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least some of the time.
  • 36% of 14 to 17 year-olds find it difficult to stay awake during the day.
  • 31% of school-aged kids and 26% of adolescents in Canada are sleep-deprived.


How is the YMCA getting involved?

YMCAs across Canada are integrating physical literacy into programming to ensure people have all the tools they need to live active, healthy lives. The concept of physical literacy naturally aligns with the work of the YMCA. Physical literacy will enable us to evaluate current programming and intentionally embed physical literacy philosophy, concepts and language into children’s programming throughout the association, aligning them with the Sport For Life framework.

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