A conference on physical literacy is being held in Hay River next week that will bring together representatives of communities in the Mackenzie Recreation Association.

The meeting – called the NWT Physical Literacy Champion Summit – will take place from Nov. 7 to 9.

“Physical literacy is a term that’s not really widely known in the North, although it has momentum in the South and internationally, actually,” said Jessica Van Overbeek, the executive director with the Mackenzie Recreation Association in Yellowknife. “What the summit is aiming to do is develop those champions that know about physical literacy and feel confident talking about and promoting it in their communities.”

Van Overbeek explained that physical literacy is having confidence and competence in physical movement in a wide variety of environments.

“And that’s not just necessarily for sports. It’s more to be active for life,” she said, noting it also applies to people being able to pick up their grandkids as they get older or manage ice whenever it’s slippery.

Van Overbeek said the hope is to attract two people to the summit from every Mackenzie Recreation Association community to then go back to those communities to talk about physical literacy’s importance to recreation and health and wellness.

“We can promote it all we want from our little soapbox, but in order for people to really have it in their communities we need the champions in the communities to be on the ground and doing the work,” she said.

The Mackenzie Recreation Association includes 19 communities in the South Slave, Deh Cho and North Slave (excepting Yellowknife).

Of those 19 communities, 16 are expected to be represented at the NWT Physical Literacy Champion Summit, which will be a free event that will include training.

As of last week, about 30 people had signed up to attend, including some from community recreation departments and others from schools.

Van Overbeek said it’s not that people will start new programs or change their communities after the summit.

“But more so that they can look at their programming and make it a little bit more purposeful,” she said.

Dale Loutit, the recreation programmer with the Town of Hay River, will be attending the summit.

Loutit noted she already did some training in physical literacy in June.

“So with this training I’ll be able to be a physical literacy instructor,” she said of the upcoming meeting. “I’ll have certification.”

Noting that the term physical literacy is not widely known, Loutit said she hopes the summit will create dialogue so more people will understand the concept.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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