COMMUNITY RECREATION ORGANIZATIONS

Why

• Community recreation organizations serve millions of youth. Through programming, they can set the foundation for physical literacy, which is especially important, given the recent cuts in physical education budgets.
• A child who lacks physical literacy may be more likely to drop out of or stay away from sports and recreation programs, limiting sign-ups. Conversely, enhanced physical literacy skills may increase participation in and demand for community recreation services.
• In the long term, more adults may register for programs as a downstream result of learning PL skills as youth.
• PL benefits communities by providing the necessary knowledge and skills to support lifelong physical activity beginning at the earliest stages of physical development.

Ideas

Parks & Recreation

• Devote national resources at the national office level to developing a plug-and-play plan that local groups can easily implement.
• Include PL principles in the Certified Park and Recreation Professional curriculum.
• Host preconference workshops at state and national meetings.
• Make PL programming a prerequisite for accreditation for parks and recreation departments.
• Host a “physical literacy in action” day/festival to educate and engage the community.
• Install fitness stations and playground equipment that facilitate physical literacy, with signage that helps people to engage with the infrastructure.

Scouts

• Start each meeting with an activity that develops a physical literacy skill.
• Develop a patch for meeting PL standards.
• Partner younger troops with older troops to provide teen mentors.
• Make PL the basis of activities at summer camps and campouts.

Local Sports Clbus

• Grow the diversity of sports offered and create programs and pricing strategies that provided is counts for multi-sport play during the year.

All

• Train your leaders, administrators, and youth mentors in PL principles.
• Approach PL with the goal of reaching the hardest-to-reach youth, understanding that in doing so, you will reach all children.
• Recruit coaches and other role models from all demographics(e.g., gender, race, ability, bodytype, socioeconomic status, sexuality, etc.).
• Create a culture that values child development, not just scores and statistics.
• Educate parents/guardians about the benefits of physical literacy.
• Define programming by skill level, not age, and integrate youth with and without disabilities.
• Market the programs using inclusive language.
• Communicate with physical education teachers to connect students with community programs.

Barriers/Competing Interests

Geographic Access

• In some climates, programming may be unavailable during seasons with extreme temperatures.

Spaces

• Some neighborhoods lack safe, nearby places to engage in PL-based activities.

Environmental Conditions

• Poor air quality in some areas means that outdoor activities don’t always deliver positive net health benefits.

Resources

• Budgets of many providers are stretched thin.
• Funds may be necessary to recalibrate existing curricula or legacy programs, create new programs, and train administrators.

LEADING THE WAY

Since 2011, the parks and recreation department in Stoughton, Wisc. has dedicated itself to being a physical literacy resource for community members. Notably, it has incorporated PL principles into its programming to alleviate troubling trends: decreasing participation in adult sport leagues, high obesity rates, absence of free play among children in the community, increasing number of private organizations in the youth sports market, and effects of the Great Recession. Today, under an initiative called Active Stoughton for Life, the parks and recreation department incorporates PL basics into every summer and winter sport it offers for children through age 12 ($30 to $40 for six to eight weeks, and fee waivers are available for any family in need). Every practice begins with a movement prep session. Stoughton also offers summer programming that provides the basics for a variety of sports via activities such as Intro to Hitting Games, Intro to Ball Games, and others. To effectively implement these changes, coach training increased in length from one hour to two days, and the department has turned to social media, newsletters, and other avenues to educate parents about physical literacy. It measures participants’ competencies using Canada’s Physical Literacy Assessment for Youth (PLAY) tools. The increased investment resulted in participants showing progress in basic movement skills in just three weeks of practice and high rates of retention.[80]