Saskatchewan in motion (SIM) is trying to do just that - get Saskatchewan in motion.
“Less than 15 per cent of Saskatchewan kids are getting the physical activity they need,” said SIM general manager Cathie Kryzanowski.
The group facilitates discussions with the mayor and other community leaders in cities throughout the province regarding the importance of physical activity and how they can establish a more active culture.
Earlier this year, SIM surveyed Lloydminster residents about their involvement in physical activity and access to activity within the city. On Wednesday, March 25, SIM held a symposium at the Servus Sports Centre, where SIM discussed results from the survey and the need for youth to be involved in multiple activities.
“Often, kids and parents and programmers feel, ‘Well if it’s good to do a sport, let’s just do it 11 months a year,’ and then kids can’t do other stuff,” said Dr. Louise Humbert, volunteer board member for SIM and associate dean and professor in kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan.
“There are some organizations and parents that feel if they put their child in one activity and we focus on one activity then they will have a much better outcome - whatever that outcome is - than (they would) in a multi-sport model,” she added.
Humbert says that since those individuals weren’t given opportunities to develop the physical literacy needed for other sports, they tend to become inactive once they walk away from their one sport.
Physical activity is known to have great mental, emotional and psychological effects, in addition to its obvious physical benefits. The group encourages youth to engage in 90 minutes of physical activity per day, split into 30 minutes at home, 30 minutes at school and 30 minutes in the community.
As for the survey, from which SIM received around 1,000 responses, Kryzanowski said responders showed great appreciation for the athletic facilities and opportunities available in Lloydminster. She said Bud Miller All Seasons Park, in particular, drew rave reviews, though its location poses accessibility problems for residents on the other side of the city. A new complex built elsewhere would help resolve that, though Kryzanowski acknowledged an initiative of that magnitude would require significant funding.
Kryzanowski also reported that responders felt comfortable with the ability to walk and cycle freely throughout their neighbourhoods. However, she said the city’s traffic patterns that result from the intersecting highways cause issues for residents wishing to walk or cycle to destinations in the heart of the city.
SIM would also like to see the city’s athletic venues accommodate the working hours of many Lloydminsterites.
“A lot of shift workers in Lloydminster,” said Kryzanowski, “and so (there are) some opportunities for programs and access to facilities for folks who are working shift-work and don’t follow a typical day.”
SIM says it doesn’t expect the city to commit to any monumental changes overnight, and its recommendations are generally long-term intentions. Furthermore, SIM only provides the city with recommendations, but does not implement changes on its own. Nevertheless, the ball now rests in the city’s court.