Libraries: Champions for Physical literacy

Who knew the next frontier for Physical Literacy would be the library?   Many of us grew up with libraries as quiet places for reading. As a child, the extent of my physical activity in the library was seeing how big a pile of books I could get to the check-out desk without dropping any! 

Physical Literacy has been embraced by the Chinook Arch Regional Library System.  With the support of Lethbridge College’s Be Fit for Life Centre, the System, including 33-member libraries, is providing programing and equipment to support barrier free active living.   

Often in rural communities there are limited opportunities for engaging in and exploring new physical activities.  Individuals may not be comfortable being physically active in private health clubs or yoga facilities, whereas libraries are seen as more accessible, community spaces where everyone is welcome. 

The Chinook Arch system is exploring how it can use its role and position as a public, common space to support active living programs such as Yoga in the Library for women and girls. In 2018 the Chinook Arch and BFFL received a provincial grant to launch Yoga in the Library .  No charge introductory classes have been offered in member libraries; Kainai – Blackfoot reserve , Barnwell, Vauxhall, Taber, Pincher Creek , Milo, Coaldale, Cardston, Fort Macleod and Vulcan.   

Chinook Arch is also providing a wide diversity of resources such as giant checkers, parachutes, juggling scarves, indoor mini golf, hula hoops, rubber chickens and other physical literacy tools and games.  There is the opportunity to borrow snow shoes and camping equipment for outdoor activities. 

A central intention of this initiative is to encourage all kinds of physical activity for all abilities, helping everyone to be as active as they can be.  To quote Lisa Weekes, Manager of Partnerships and Community Development for Chinook Arch, “There is no right way to chuck a rubber chicken!”