The Active for Life initiative: The time is right

The Active for Life initiative: The time is right

I was watching the London Games with my kids and my 9-year-old son asked why so many people watch the Olympics. I responded with the usual answers. Because people like sport. Because we like to watch other people challenge themselves.

Then I paused. “Because sport is life,” I said.

Both my son and daughter turned to look at me and smiled. What I really meant was that sport is health and health is life, but they got the idea.

My son’s question took me back to a cottage in the Laurentians north of Montreal in the spring of 2010. The Active for Life initiative was born there when a group of people passionate about sport and healthy kids asked a very similar question.

The B2ten leadership team was meeting at the cottage to debrief and learn from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Canada had just achieved its best ever medal results and gained the recognition of the international sport community.

But someone in the group asked, so what? What does it matter if our athletes succeed on the international scene? What is a medal really worth?

There was animated discussion, and the answer came quickly. If the achievements of Canadian athletes inspire kids to get involved in sport and physical activity, then Olympic medals are priceless. And as others have done, we expected to find a direct correlation between elite athlete performance and increased activity among children: Surely one must automatically lead to the other.

But we were wrong. It doesn’t work that way. The fact is that despite our success at Vancouver 2010, and regardless of whether Canadian athletes win more medals in London, today’s kids are less active and less involved in sport. And we know this inactivity is making them sick.

Physical literacy

Physical literacy refers to the mastering of fundamental movement skills and sport skills that permit a child to move with confidence and control in a wide range of physical activity situations. Physical literacy begins with learning the ABC’S: agility, balance, coordination and speed. Like reading, writing and mathematics, physical literacy must be taught to children. And it should be taught at a young age.

Active for Life and B2ten

Active for Life is a social enterprise funded by B2ten, a charitable organization created to assist Canada’s world-class athletes in their efforts and one of the organizations behind many of the medals in Vancouver and Whistler.

B2ten is also a strong supporter of Canada at the 2012 London Games.

What have we learned? It takes far more than role models to activate today’s kid.

So that’s become our purpose. Active for Life was created to get kids to live active, healthy lives. Our next step was to figure out how to deliver on this mission.

We began investigating how we could contribute to stopping the negative trends in kids’ health. In our search for solutions, we talked to many experts, but we also talked to parents like you.

The recognized leaders in the field of children’s sport and activity, like those at Canadian Sport for Life, told us that there was one simple thing that could turn the tide: physical literacy.

Physical literacy gives your child the best chance for life-long health and success, and it must be taught early in life. From sports to social belonging, from school to career, kids who have the skills to move with confidence and participate in physical activity have a better chance to succeed and live a healthy life.

We are not alone in recognizing that teaching physical literacy is a potent solution that can stop the negative trends in sport, activity and kids’ health. Even NHL teams are doing their part to help parents get their kids to be physically literate.

So critical is physical literacy that Sport Canada, in its 2012 sport policy, has identified it as the “precondition to lifelong enjoyment of sport” and “a foundation for active living and health for everyone”.

When we talked to parents like you, you told us that you were aware of the crisis in children’s health. You know that Canada is transforming, and it’s not for the better.

But you also told us that despite the fact that the statistics are frightening, you feel overwhelmed by the information and you don’t know what do to make a difference for your kids.

In our attempt to connect the key pieces of this puzzle, we came up with this:

1. Physical literacy is one simple solution to help kids become more active, healthy and successful for life.

2. Parents need direction, education and inspiration, but mostly they need practical solutions.

3. Parents are the gatekeepers of their kids’ activities, and the enablers of life-long habits.

With this in mind we created this electronic magazine to inspire you, to educate you and to offer solutions.

Active for Life: Where parents go for their kids’ health and success. Born from a need and a wish: to help you ensure that your children become physically literate early in life.

It’s a good idea. And the time is here.

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