The Victoria Foundation’s 2012 Victoria’s Vital Signs® report front cover posed the question “Do our kids have a healthy future?” and identified 6.5 hours of screen time per day for 10-16 year olds as a national average, scoring this category at a D+. They noted that children and youth are more sedentary and less active than necessary to lead healthy lives. Messages about childhood obesity and rising rates of diabetes have flooded the media in the past couple of years as we start to understand the long term implications of inactivity on the future of our children and youth.
Yet two years after the report, many organizations are still stuck in the cycle of promoting health programs rather than providing them. The Victoria Foundation has been a driving force in matching organizations and funders to help provide physical literacy programs to children and youth in Victoria; one of these programs being the KidSport-PISE After School Fun program.
In January 2014, PISE began delivering a physical literacy mentorship program at Rogers and Macaulay Elementary Schools. Both schools implemented an after school program where children ages 5-10 years old were taught fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills in a fun welcoming environment.
Physical literacy seems to be a term that resonates well with parents. One mother at Rogers Elementary School described that her daughter had never felt she belonged in sport programs. As a result she was gaining weight and becoming progressively less active. But when she was given the opportunity to be active in the KidSport-PISE program, she excelled. She left every session sweaty and exhausted as she would have in a sport program, but she also left with a sense of accomplishment and fun that was missing in other programs she had tried.
That’s the key to physical literacy; done right it can be adapted for every child no matter what their ability levels may be. By teaching skills through a games and play based approach the program attracts children that fall through the cracks of the traditional sport system. “Our whole concept is play with a purpose,” says Physical Literacy Coordinator, Kelly Graham. “To the kids it should just feel like fun games, but the leaders know what skills the games are teaching so the kids are getting lots of repetitions of a skill like throwing without them even realizing it”.
In order to assess program effectiveness, a third party consultant was hired to evaluate the program. Students at Rogers Elementary School were tracked using a mixed method approach. PLAYfun, from the Physical Literacy Assessment for Youth (PLAY) toolkit developed by Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L), and the System for Observing Play and Leisure Activities in Youth (SOPLAY) were merged to create the SOPLAYfun tool to gather both observational quantitative and qualitative measurements.
The preliminary results show that during the two-hour KidSport-PISE After School Fun Program, participants were active for 53 minutes. Specifically, the program contributed, on average, 43 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per session to participants’ daily physical activity requirements. This is just 17 minutes short of meeting the daily recommended amount of 60 minutes in this after school period alone. As well, participants spent on average 1 hour and 38 minutes practicing the fundamental motor skills needed to become physically literate and active for life. The remaining time can be accounted for in snack and water breaks, leader demonstrations and game explanations.
Although the programs have only run for six months at each school the impact has reached over 250 children so far. After a successful introduction to the Rogers and Macaulay communities the format of the program will change for the remaining four months. From October 2014 – January 2015 the After School Fun program will partner with Rogers Out of School Care and Harbourside Boys and Girls Club at Macaulay with the goal of sustainable programming. PISE Physical Literacy Leaders will introduce physical literacy games in these programs and teach the out of school care leaders how to successfully teach basic movement skills.
PISE’s goal is not to remain the leader of programs in a community long term. In most cases PISE will mentor the leaders they work with to obtain the skills and knowledge to take over the program. “For every one community leader we train, our collective impact grows,” explains Kelly Graham. “Our goal is to have all the organizations who work with children and youth in Victoria speaking the language of physical literacy and giving all the kids they work with a movement vocabulary that will keep them active for life.”
With the second phase of the program starting next week the partner organizations are excited to use the data collected in phase one to improve the program and insure the kids are getting the maximum benefit possible from this experience.
“All kids deserve to play!”
KidSport Greater Victoria is a local charitable non-profit organization whose goal is to ensure that kids from families facing financial barriers can participate in sport. Funds raised locally are spent locally and are distributed to assist with registration fees for a season of sport of their choice. Sport and physical activities provide opportunities for kids to learn teamwork, fair play, dedication and commitment. Kids learn how to set goals and work to achieve them, all while having fun as they acquire important lifelong social and fundamental movement skills. Thanks to participation in sport, kids increase their sense of self-confidence and live happier, healthier lifestyles now and later on in life.
To date, KidSport Greater Victoria has distributed $1,263,311 to a total of 6,467 local kids in need. Together, we’re ensuring ALL Kids Can Play!
Current funding eligibility amounts and application form can be found on at www.kidsportvictoria.ca.
Kelly Graham is the Physical Literacy Coordinator for the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE). She has worked for PISE since it opened in September 2008. Kelly organizes 41 Physical Literacy classes across Victoria in schools, ECE settings, community centers, recreation centers, and First Nation communities. Her 23 Physical Literacy Leaders work with approximately 700 kids per week. Kelly also has a background of working with people with disabilities. She worked as a Programmer for BC Wheelchair Sports Association and participated in everything from Easter Seals Camps to the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. Kelly was also the Coordinator for the Wheelchair Race Series in Western Canada. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Sport & Fitness Leadership. She is also an NCCP FMS Learning Facilitator, RJT Learning Facilitator, High Five Learning Facilitator, and an Action Schools BC Regional Trainer. Qualifications: BSFL, Fundamental Movement Skills Learning Facilitator, High Five Learning Facilitator, Run Jump Throw Learning Facilitator