Recreation providers throughout the Cowichan Valley will have more tools to help more children get — and stay — active after receiving a $25,000 RBC grant.
With this grant, which was received Dec. 3, the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) will be better able to promote physical literacy, the first stage of the Canadian Sport for Life national model to encourage lifelong activity. Physical literacy encourages children aged two to 12 to become competent and confident in a wide range of fundamental movement skills, including running, jumping, throwing, agility, balance, co-ordination and speed.
This initiative is designed to address that children nationally are meeting five per cent of physical activity guidelines and are spending more than seven hours per day in front of digital screens in one form or another, according to a press release from the CVRD.
“Our vision is that the Cowichan communities will be the most livable and healthy in Canada,” then-CVRD board chair Rob Hutchins stated in the release. “Grant opportunities like this one from RBC help us deliver services to make that happen.”
RBC Royal Bank has become a national sponsor of the initiative and is providing various grant opportunities. Recreation staff from Ladysmith Parks and Recreation, North Cowichan Parks and Recreation, South Cowichan Recreation, Cowichan Lake Recreation, and the Island Savings Centre co-ordinated a region-wide response and were successful in earning the $25,000 grant.
A key part of this initiative is working with health, education, and sport to achieve consistency in delivering this region-wide service, and the local steering committee includes representatives from KidSport Cowichan, School District 79 and Our Cowichan Communities Health Network.
John Elzinga, general manager of the CVRD’s recreation and culture department, says this grant enables the recreation staff and partners involved in the steering committee to start planning for community engagement and for an education piece around what physical literacy is.
“The grant is for the next 12 months, so we’ll be identifying specifically what that means in terms of programs and events,” he said. “Right across the region, recreation practitioners are trying to get the public more active, and specifically this grant for ages two to 12 will address some of the concerns around childhood obesity and that kids spend up to seven hours a day in front of a screen.”
Elzinga says the steering committee will start identifying what events and programs are able to be achieved by this grant up until the end of the year, and he expects implementation would begin early in the new year.
“It’s important to get activities all across the region, and we really value the efforts and the involvement of the staff at Ladysmith Parks and Recreation for their leadership role in this,” he said. “A thanks to RBC for their sponsorship.”
Clayton Postings, Ladysmith’s director of Parks, Recreation and Culture, says this was a great opportunity to work together regionally, and there could be other regional benefits down the road.
“It’s been a really positive opportunity for us regionally to get a grant,” he said. “I don’t think we would have received this grant if we had applied for it individually, but regionally, it was a good opportunity. I think the other benefit for us is it allows us to work with our partners in the region to look at possibly down the road bringing in program staff on a regional basis if we can have all of us regionally doing the same program.”
Postings says this grant funding and support helps recreation programmers expose families to activities and programs.
“I think most of the health reports in the school system are definitely demonstrating there’s less activity for kids in that age group [of two to 12],” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to really educate families and allow youth to participate in programs and expose them to programs.”