PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCIES & FOUNDATIONS
• The outcomes of a physically illiterate society are a public health concern. PL has the potential to significantly improve to community health by affecting indicators for physical activity and other factors linked to chronic diseases and life expectancy.
• PL efforts can help local community health departments highlight simple, collaborative, and effective preventive-care efforts.
• Conduct or fund research that grows the body of evidence between PL and program design, PL and physical activity, and PL and health outcomes. Such research is the first step to establishing reimbursement by insurance companies. Use the research in consultation with sport leaders to develop plug-and-play curriculum, enabling local communities to implement research-based programming.
• Utilize community health promotion advocates in disadvantaged communities to provide a direct linkage between the health benefits of PL and the parents or caregivers responsible. The benefits of these advocates, like promotoras in Hispanic communities, are well-documented.
• Integrate PL assessments and education into standard community health clinic offerings like maternal and parenting classes.
• Incorporate PL principles in the curriculum and education of university public health programs and within professional membership associations.
• Encourage federal funding of PL research and use your knowledge of community health needs to guide priorities.
• Initiate cross-sector calls to action that can be led by the US Surgeon General and other prominent public health officials.
• Other areas in domestic health, such as affordability and quality of care for a range of diseases, have more urgent, short-term timelines than PL. Officials are also more familiar with them.
• PL programs are currently not a priority of the consumer. This is especially true for low-income households and families, where basic, immediate necessities require most of the resources and available capacity.
LEADING THE WAY
The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, created after the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, is a pioneer in PL programming at the local level. In 2006, the organization created coach curriculum plans for a variety of winter sports, from hockey to Nordic skiing. The curricula rely on physical literacy best practices. For example, to support skaters (applicable to ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating), the Utah Olympic Oval instructors teach agility, balance, and coordination skills through a six-session Learn to Skate program (which costs beginners $45 and includes all equipment). The formerly on-ice only approach has been modified to include complementary land based
Since implementing these fun and engaging physical literacy principles in the program, participation has nearly quadrupled, growing from 400 participants in 2006 to 1, 500 participants annually in 2014. Though the program targets youth ages five to 12, parents and siblings are encouraged to join in the sessions, creating a larger community and growing participation across all ages and abilities. The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation has reached further into the Olympic Oval community to provide free FUNdamentals programs to two nearby local elementary schools as their regularly scheduled PE classes.