Healthy movement behaviours of Canadian children and youth have been found to be suboptimal; this is associated with declines in physical fitness, increases in obesity, and elevated chronic disease risk. Physical literacy is an evolving construct representing foundational domains upon which physically active lifestyles are based. Many sectors and organizations in Canada are embracing physical literacy in their programs, practices, policies, and research; however, the use of inconsistent definitions and conceptualizations of physical literacy had been identified by stakeholders as hindering promotion and advancement efforts.
With leadership from ParticipACTION, organizations from the physical activity, public health, sport, physical education, and recreation sectors collaborated to create a physical literacy consensus definition and position statement for use by all Canadian organizations and individuals. The process involved an environmental scan, survey of related evidence, stakeholder consultations, and creation of a Steering Committee. From this background work a consensus statement was drafted, shared with stakeholders, revised, and ratified.
Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement was launched in June 2015 at the International Physical Literacy Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. To further promote the Consensus Statement, the Sport for Life Society developed and simultaneously released the “Vancouver Declaration”, which contained additional guidance on physical literacy. Both the Consensus Statement and the Declaration endorsed the International Physical Literacy Association’s definition of physical literacy, namely “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life”.
Sector partners hope that the Consensus Statement, with its standardized definition, brings greater harmony, synergy, and consistency to physical literacy efforts in Canada and internationally. Going forward, the impact of this initiative on the sector, and the more distal goal of increasing habitual physical activity levels, should be assessed.