The sport and physical literacy world has a vital role to play in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and Sport for Life is one of the first sport organizations to recognize this. As a non-profit organization, Sport for Life aims to provide everyone with the opportunity to participate in quality sport experiences and develop physical literacy.
“Creating a society in which quality sport and physical literacy experiences are readily available to anyone who wants to participate will not only reduce health costs but also promote education, social cohesion and gender equality,” says Sport for Life CEO Richard Way.
“As far as we’re concerned, this is the only way forward.”
Sport for Life creates, shares, and mobilizes knowledge to develop physical literacy and improve quality sport across Canada and around the world. The organization’s work directly contributes to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Partnerships.
“Like many nations across the globe, Canada is threatened by an inactivity crisis, which is a major risk factor for premature mortality, early onset of illness, and a host of chronic physical and mental health conditions,” says Way. “Everyone needs to combat this before it is too late.”
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada spent an average of $253.5 billion on health care in 2018, representing 11.3% of their gross domestic product (GDP). Quality sport can make an enormous impact in improving public health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that children aged 5-17 practice 60 minutes of exercise a week, whereas adults spend 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity a week. That’s a goal that Sport for Life believes to be achievable by developing the physical literacy of our children.
Sport for Life’s initiatives promote inclusive physical literacy, physical activity and quality sport in schools and communities, which contributes to heightened physical activity participation that meets these WHO guidelines. In addition, by bringing community partners from health, education, recreation, sport and other together one table communities can work together to create solutions and opportunities for people across the life course. Sport for Life’s physical literacy initiatives in schools and communities help increase access to quality early childhood programming to improve children’s readiness for primary education. Children are encouraged to participate in physical activity and develop physical literacy, such as fundamental movement skills (body, locomotor and object), which increases their competence and confidence to move and explore their environments.
“What we’re aiming to accomplish involves large-scale culture change,” says Way. “And using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a framework seems like an ideal way to make meaningful advancements towards that goal.”