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  • Writer's pictureDavid Thibodeau

Encouraging Sport For Life

Sports play an important role in raising healthy generations, protecting public health, and developing social cohesion.

The objectives of sport policies should include:

  • Raise healthy generations by promoting the participation of people from all ages in sport activities

  • Enable people from all ages to participate in the sport of their choice

  • Determine the inventory and need for sport and recreation facilities across the country

  • Help physical education focus on lifelong participation in sport and physical activity from preschool education

  • Develop projects for the participation of disadvantaged citizens in sport, to make the sports facilities appropriate for the use of disadvantaged people and to support disadvantaged athletes and their families

  • Support amateur sports clubs

We as a society often focus on the benefits for youth to be involved in sports. The case for a youth sport policy can have many different angles: health, social inclusion, personal development.

Youth sport policies should focus on sport for all. Trying to make sport accessible and inclusive so that everyone can participate. Governments often produce national youth policies to better harness and support youth in their countries to give them the best possible future and to ensure that they have the skills to succeed. Governments can and should use sport as a main pillar of achieving the goals of the youth policy.

In our current day this type of policy really needs to come from the government, trying to facilitate the participation of youth in sports, whether that is in school or after school.

Middle age should focus on trying to increase participation. Often people of middle age are parents and after they go to work they run around taking their kids to their extracurriculars. How do we get adults to make time for sports to keep themselves healthy? By having more youth involved in sports at a younger age, it sets them up for a life of being active. But how do we get more middle aged people involved in recreational sports? One idea is to reduce the number of work hours in a week. This would give adults more time to be able to participate in activities to help their physical and mental health. Organisations can also promote healthy workplaces by allowing employees to organize activities at work. For your next team building exercise why not do an amazing race or some active and outside.

This is something that I personally am really struggling with as I transition from being a student to working full time. I also coach outside of my full time job and am often at swim meets on weekends and coaching practices after work during the week. I don’t have that much time to participate in organized sports (or even on my own) as much as I would like to. If there were more flexible work options and organisations were supporting their workers I think I would be more able to be more active.

I think in our current day these types of policies need to come from organisations rather than policies from the government. Government can set a standard and try to enforce it, but it is up to individual companies to promote healthy workplaces.

Trying to help seniors be more involved in recreation is trickier, they have restrictions like movement (arthritis, etc) or can have limited vision, and can also not be able to get around as easily (may not have a car or someone to drive them places). Senior sport policy needs to focus on bringing sport programming to places like community centres and senior homes so that it is more accessible. I was a lifeguard in university and one of the biggest and most popular programmes that the pool ran was the Aqaufit. The participants were all seniors. I think for the most part seniors are good at being active, but how do we encourage those who are not already active?

In the last five years, my grandmother moved from her house that she had lived in for 30+ years to a new city, and then moved again to another new city a few years later. Both times she moved she wanted to go to aquafit because she knew she could meet people and make new friends in her new city. Everyone gets the same benefits from sports. I find it so inspiring that my grandmother uses sport the same way I did when I moved to a new city. It makes me believe that sports really can bring people together in a more powerful way.

As a part-time coach for a masters swim team I see the benefits of having sport programming for adults every week. It is so beneficial to these swimmers socially, mentally and physically. The demands of work-life balance and then trying to fit self-care into a busy schedule in your day to day life outside of work, requires more spaces for adult sport programming. Especially as we learn more about mental health and taking care of our mental health. There is only room to grow in our capacity to have sport programs for all ages.

By placing a larger focus on sports and recreation throughout our entire lives, this will have larger benefits to society than just for personal health and well-being. By having a healthier populous, there would be less trips to the hospitals, lower the strain on our systems and help lower costs of healthcare, for example. I think another positive side effect is in today’s world where everyone is on their phones, sports allow people to come together and interact without the influence of social media or technology.


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