The Physical Movement, Leadership: There Has Never Been a More Important Time to Get & Keep Kids Moving.

Influencing our younger generations while being at our best physical selves is an important part of creating a better world. Let's explore why and how this can happen.

There might never be a more important time for us all to move daily. 

With the global focus on withdrawal as a means to stay healthy, this time is also an opportunity to build ourselves up.

If we start from the ground up, we start with our kids. Our younger generation. The ability to deal with this change of plans and get some benefit out of this time will impact them for years to come.  The role we have as parents, coaches and educators has never been more important in initiating and supporting this process.

Simple Not Easy

Help kids to get moving.  

It is very encouraging to see kids outside playing more and more as the weather gets better in this part of the world and restrictions are starting to be lifted on staying inside.

Moving. Running. Biking. Playing street hockey. Walking with family. Scooters. Skateboards. Basketball.  Playing catch with football or baseball. Soccer. Yard work with parents (usually only for small bursts!).  They are all occurring more and more.

We, as adults, play a huge role in modelling and leading this.    The kids that I see outside have parents that seem to be encouraging it.  I am sure some just want the kids out of the house as we head into our 9th week of isolation and no school!!

There are signs that increased movement maybe something that stays with us after COVID-19.  Cities are opening up spaces for cycling for example to support cyclists and pedestrians of all ages as we head into a summer without normal activities.

Montreal is opening up 300 km of roads to expand for pedestrian and cycling.

The province of British Columbia is doing something similar.

We are also noticing the change in major metropolitan areas around the quality of the air. In southern Ontario, the most densely populated region in Canada, there were thousands of toxins in the air prior to COVID-19.

Currently, there is a 30-40% drop in air pollutants in some major cities.

This is not limited to just parts of Canada.

This is massive news to encourage our youth and the young at heart to get outside and get moving!

Can we turn this into helping us all improve our physical literacy?

Being physically literate is being able to move with competence in a wide variety of physical activities that benefit the development of the whole person.

Crawling, jumping, balance, coordination,  strength and endurance, speed, agility, changing directions, throwing, catching, tracking are all examples of the skills that make  up physical literacy. 

Yes, they are skills.

We are not born with them. If we are blessed, we are born with the capacity to develop these skills.

We learn them.    

Like any skill, if they are not practiced, they don’t develop. In the case of us older folks, they decline if not practiced. Quickly after 40-45 years old. And that is a thing.

Having coached and taught in the 80’s, 90’s, through the 2020’s I have noticed a change in the physical capacity of our youth.  Whether that be the field or on the court or in the gym, movement skills have definitely declined.

In 2020, there is now a growth around sports development and specialized sports instruction.  Integrating a physical literacy component becomes critical in supporting these programs.

We all have a roll to play.

We don’t have to be fitness and movement experts to make an impact. We just have to believe that moving daily is important.

As parents we can make sure that we model and encourage these behaviors and accommodate them.  Encouragement is the least we can do. Preferably we use this opportunity to model some of these behaviors.  I can not think of a more important endeavor that can impact our health, our energy and the same in future generations.

We can also be empowered to have a physical movement criteria to whatever our kids are participating in.  Some activities we register our kids for have more physical skills built into them then others, but many are very specialized. We can use this time to help build their physical literacy. That includes areas of physical development that are not focused on in their favorite activity.   We can then transfer to being advocates for the same in our sports programs and physical education programs once kids go back to school. In short, this means they should do more than just the sport they are registered in.

This is why activities like cycling and ball skills are terrific. They include a lot of the skill development that can be applied to many other skills.

We also need to understand the role that daily physical movement plays in the mental side of youth and the ability to deal with the changes that we are all going through. There is a massive connection between daily movement and mental health.  For example, regular activity helps with the management and decline of anxiety. This is especially powerful during this time of uncertainty with COVID-19.

Here is one study of many relating decline in anxiety and depression in pre-adolescent youth in regular movement associating with pleasure, and non-competitive interactions between participants.

As coaches, we can help connect the dots by acknowledging that most of our sport programs do not include time on physical movement skills. Most of the time the skills of the sport are the focus.  We can include this in preparation for the activity as well a the recovery time.  Each community has a lot of expertise in the form of movement coaches who are passionate about instilling skills in our youth.

Reference the below outstanding leadership from movement Coach Adam Martin of the Pursuit Athletic Centre in Guelph, Ontario in April.

This is awesome!

As teachers and educators, we need to re-establish physical literacy as a priority.  Current advocates are needing support in the school system as well.

The repercussions of not doing so are massive.

Objectively measured physical activity data show that only 9% of Canadian children and youth aged 5–17 years are getting enough physical activity to meet the guidelines of at least 60 min of daily movement.

Here is an example of our recent workouts at Playball Academy Canada for young athletes who’s families want some daily structure during this crazy time. Every day at 1pm, these athletes get instruction on various aspect of baseball/softball skill development, and 1 of these sessions have built in a focus on physical literacy.

From the youth @home program at PBA, we have initiated a Couch2Coach program as well for coaches and parents who some simple initiatives to help themselves stay active and stronger.

We have been given a time where we can re-evaluate a lot of aspects of our lives.  The global shutdown of everything is allowing us a reset buttons and gives cause for analysis on all our health habits.   Most of our schedules from pre COVID-19 will not get back to where they were for months.

We have a great opportunity and model our own daily habits for younger generations as well as build up our health and immunity.

We all have a responsibility and the opportunity to be advocates and support daily movement.

This is the essence of The Physical Movement.