By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Fit Kids Healthy Kids (FKHK) is a physical literacy program in Manitoba. It teaches children and their adult leaders the fundamentals of movement that can help make kids confident and competent in sport, recreation, and life.
Their goal is to provide opportunities for children to learn basic movement skills through games and activities that are inclusive and non-competitive. Basic skills are fundamental skills. They open the door to lifelong sport and activity.
Fundamental Movement Skills
Fundamental movement skills are basic movements such as throwing, kicking, running, jumping, hopping and catching. Fundamental sport skills are these movement skills applied to a sport situation. For example, kicking a soccer ball, running a sprint, jumping up for a basketball rebound, catching a baseball. The combination of these two types of skills forms the basis of physical literacy.
“In basic terms, physical literacy is teaching kids the skills they need to participate in physical activity,” says Josh Murray, Fit Kids Healthy Kids Program Coordinator. “That can be anything from playing games and activities outside at recess to learning how to play different sports. What we aim to do is help kids build competence in the basic skills which will give them the confidence to engage in physical activity.”
They encourage a holistic approach to learning these skills through various activities, such as low-organized games, stationed play, dance, modified sport, and free play. Murray says the most important part about the program is introducing kids to activity in a fun and supportive way. They want to open the door to new sports and physical activities and help build a better, more confident athlete and person.
“You see a lot of kids that maybe don’t have the skills of throwing or catching and they’re sitting on the sidelines. They want to participate, but they’re maybe scared of being bullied or peer pressure and that kind of stuff,” says Murray. “So if we teach them at an early age, then as they grow up they will have the foundation of these basic skills and can then choose to be active. Teaching about physical literacy is so important because of how it correlates with physical health, social health, mental health, everything.”
FKHK has an extensive database of over 700 different activities that can be easily combined to create a lesson plan for kids of all ages. It also offers five different programs: Gym Blasts, Motion Zone, One Time Fun Time, the 8-Week Program, and Training Sessions.
Gym Blasts are classes we run in schools alongside physical educators. Our team teaches physical education classes for the day to promote physical literacy. At the school, we facilitate games and activities that focus on fundamental movement skills that help students increase their motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.
Motion Zone is a free-play zone with equipment and games supervised by staff, who are actively engaged with the children in an unstructured play setting. They talk about the importance of physical activity and teach them fun things to do that can improve fundamental movement skills.
One Time Fun Time
These programs are a one-time session where our team visits a centre and runs a physical literacy program based on fundamental movement skills.
The 8-week Program is focused on building confidence and competence in staff, so that they have the skills they need to be a leader in a gym, field, or active play setting. We visit a site once a week to lead the children and staff in an active session based on fundamental movement skills and developing physical literacy.
Training sessions allow us to work with local staff to teach them about physical literacy, fundamental movement skills, and how to incorporate games and activity into their programs.
The Importance of Physical Literacy
“I think at daycares and other youth programs, there’s a lot of focus on reading and writing but there’s not a lot of physical literacy,” says Murray. “And it is a very taught skill, but it’s not just the kids that need teaching. In these programs, we also work with the staff to not only go over the importance of physical literacy and the consequences of inactivity, but we also play the activities with the adults. I love to see the adults running around playing tag just like when they were kids. It’s like a light switch goes off for them, and it’s great to see their smiles and laughs while they play the games that their kids will be playing at their daycares or other centres.”
According to Participaction’s 2022 Children & Youth Report Card, only 28 per cent of kids in Canada (5-17 years) are meeting national physical activity guidelines. Programs like the ones offered through FKHK can help change that.
A Positive Experience
Murray says the best part about the program is that wherever kids are, they will travel to teach these programs. Additionally, they are always focused on providing a positive experience for kids to have fun in learning different skills and finding ways to meet the needs of the program and organizations, especially the specific needs of the kids as well. He says he’s seen firsthand the impact a fun introduction to activity can have on kids.
“We were at one of the schools and a kid came up to us and said, ‘I don’t like physical activity. This is dumb. Why are you guys here?’ He really had that negative attitude toward activity,” says Murray. “And we asked him, ‘What is your favourite game?’ He said, ‘I like this one tag game, but you guys won’t play it.’ So we incorporated it into our program when we visited the next time, and the kid had a blast and it changed his entire mood toward us and physical activity. Because we provided a bridge from a negative experience to a positive experience, after those eight weeks, we were with him his skill level went up and his attitude toward physical activity increased.”
Children should have at least 60 minutes of adult-led physical activity each day and many more hours of unstructured active play, according to the physical activity recommendation within the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.
FKHK believes everyone needs to work together to ensure that children are receiving quality activity time while children are in their care. When everyone works together to promote physical literacy and the development of fundamental movement skills, it can ensure that every child is building the confidence and competence they need to be successful in recreation, sport and life.
Reach out to FKHK at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can get started in your own community today.