Fostering personal growth and well-being

September 12, 2016
Brian Torrance
Physical literacy is... the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.

International Physical Literacy Association


Literacy is the ability to read, write and do arithmetic. Our society values these skills and understands that all children and youth need to acquire them. From a very young age, the comfort, regularity and importance of reading are part of our everyday lives. We all have memories of being read to or reading to our children.

Equally as important for lifelong good health, citizenship and well-being is physical literacy, which the International Physical Literacy Association defines as, “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.”

Physical literacy is a gateway to increased participation in physical activity, an important issue these days given the many statistics informing us that our youth and our country are not physically active enough.

Compared to the value placed on literacy in the conventional sense, do we equally value physical literacy and the many benefits that come from movement in our lives? How do we make a shift to better embed movement, play and activity in our daily lives?

I encourage you to connect with family, neighbours and your broader school community about physical literacy and the profound impact it can have in our lives.

Brian Torrance is the director of Ever Active Schools, a special project of the Health and Physical Education Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. Through grant funding from the ministries of Health, Education and Culture and Tourism, the project helps schools contribute to student health and learning through positive mental health, healthy eating and physical activity.