Implementing the Physical Literacy Component of the 2015 Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum: Is the Stage Set?
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Introduction: Current physical activity levels among children and youth are alarmingly low; a mere 7% of children and youth are meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (Colley et al., 2011), which means that the vast majority of this population is at risk of developing major health problems in adulthood (Janssen & Leblanc, 2010). These high inactivity rates may be related to suboptimal experiences in sport and physical activity stemming from a lack of competence and confidence (Lubans, Morgan, Cliff, Barnett, & Okely, 2010). Developing a foundation of physical literacy can encourage and maintain lifelong physical activity, yet this does not always occur naturally as a part of human growth (Hardman, 2011). An ideal setting to foster the growth and development of physical literacy is physical education class. Physical education class can offer all children and youth an equal opportunity to learn and practice the skills needed to be active for life (Hardman, 2011). Elementary school teachers are responsible for delivering the physical education curriculum, and it is important to understand their will and capacity as the implementing agents of physical literacy development curriculum (McLaughlin, 1987). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the physical literacy component of the 2015 Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum policy through the eyes of key informants, and to explore the resources available for the implementation of this new policy. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with seven key informants of the curriculum policy development, including two teachers. In tandem with the interviews, a resource inventory and curriculum review were conducted to assess the content and availability of physical literacy resources. All data were analyzed through the lens of Hogwood and Gunn’s (1984) 10 preconditions for policy implementation. Results: Participants discussed how implementation is affected by: accountability, external capacity, internal capacity, awareness and understanding of physical literacy, implementation expertise, and policy climate. Discussion: Participants voiced similar opinions on most issues, and the overall lack of attention given to physical education programs in schools will continue to be a major dilemma when trying to combat such high physical inactivity levels.