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Free workshops on February 2nd
by Randy Pascal

It's not every day that the average Sudburian involved in sport and/or physical activity, in any way, shape or form, can enjoy the benefit of tapping into some of the leaders of the sector from across the country.

It is even less common when that opportunity comes at zero cost to the local participants.

Yet that is exactly the case come Saturday, February 2nd when Active Sudbury – an Ontario Trillium Foundation funded project that brings together representatives of Public Health – Sudbury, the City of Greater Sudbury, Laurentian University, Cambrian College, SportLink – Greater Sudbury Sport Council, as well as many other key partners – will play host to their second conference in recent years.

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds will feature a series of workshops, presentations and panels, running from 9:00 a.m until 4:30 p.m., all taking place at the School of Education building at Laurentian University. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend one of more of the sessions, with more information to follow on registration details.

Despite the arctic deep freeze that we are currently experiencing, this day-long gathering is something that Active Sudbury co-chair Natalie Philippe has no trouble warming up to, whatsoever. “We have a variety of sessions, and they will speak to someone who is new to the concept of physical literacy and why we should be fostering its development, right through to people who have been working on physical literacy for quite some time,” noted the native of Sturgeon Falls, but long-time public health nurse in our city.

Among the keynote speakers in attendance is Drew Mitchell, a British Columbia resident who serves as the Director of Physical Literacy for Sport for Life, in addition to tackling the role of mentor to the Active Sudbury project. “Drew will address the whole question of what it is involved in becoming a Sport for Life Physical Literacy community and why we need to do it,” said Philippe.

“His session will also highlight some of the Active Sudbury projects and how people can connect to become involved.” While a standard definition of physical literacy is now easily obtained via the on-line wisdom of professor Google, Philippe provided a more grass-roots explanation of the concept.

“It really goes to the elements that I know how to be physically active, I want to participate, and I feel confident in participating,” she said. “One of the primary elements is physical competence, the fundamental movement skills factor, the ability to be active. Then you have the motivation and confidence.”

“It's about the knowledge and understanding and valuing being physically active. We want children to develop this foundation early in life. It really is just like reading, in a sense. You have to have the “how to”, so that you can be active for life. And we want those skills to include movements on ice, land, snow, and in water.”

While the notion of the importance of physical activity dates back several decades, the genesis of this particular undertaking is far more current. “We started talking about physical literacy in 2012,” recalled Philippe. “We had a few speakers that came and provided sessions, but they were just one-time workshops.”

That would change when Laurentian University School of Education professor Carolyn Crang also happened to encounter Drew Mitchell at a separate conference. Mitchell would connect Crang and Philippe, and the tandem would reach out to a variety of potential community partners, some of whom would eventually form Active Sudbury.

“We applied for an RBC Learn to Play grant and hosted our first conference in 2017,” said Philippe. “As part of the Sport for Life strategy, we started bringing in educational institutions, bringing in the health sector, the early years sector, media and sports and recreation. We branched out. That's when all of the other partners started to come to the table.”

The upcoming conference is but one of the many activities that Active Sudbury has planned over the course of the next two years. The group will be hosting free Movement Preparation workshops on select Sunday mornings in March, April and May (details on Active Sudbury website), sharing the end product of a collaboration between Sport for Life and Canada Soccer.

“Even though it was developed with Canada Soccer, it's applicable to any sport,” explained Philippe. “It's an introduction to a really awesome warm-up, helping to prepare your athletes to develop right-left symmetry and other key skills, all while serving as a standard warm-up. I recommend it as an addition to what teams may be already doing.”

Over and above the focus of a standard warm-up, ensuring that muscles are prepared for game or practice action, the Movement Preparation workouts also were designed with injury prevention in mind, helping the body to better absorb the rigours of elite sport competition.

Much like the event in February, Philippe sees the role of Active Sudbury as supplementing and educating the volunteers that play such a key role in athlete development. “The conference is about content sharing, receiving information from folks that have done this before, sharing what the studied evidence is saying.”

“Some of the keynote presentations incorporate tools and resources that are available. You can take the information and adapt it to your environment.”

For information on either the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds conference on February 2nd, or any of the workshops that are set to follow, simply visit the Active Sudbury website at

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