PHYSICAL LITERACY

CHINOOK ARCH REGIONAL LIBRARY SYSTEM, SOUTHWESTERN ALBERTA, CANADA

In spring 2018, the Rockland Public Library received a $2,500 grant from the Maine Public Library Fund to help fund activities and events promoting the theme, Check out Movement and Healthy Living at Your Library. The library is developing events and activities for adults of all abilities and ages to encourage more movement and activity for healthy living. Patty King, Deputy Library Director reached out to Let’s Move in Libraries to get ideas on how the library could effectively use this fitness and movement grant. Let’s Move in Libraries connected her to other libraries with successful programs. The Rockland Public Library is developing a series of balance and walking classes, plus five fitness kits for library circulation.

Pictured from left to right, Deputy Library Director Patty King and Library Director Amy Levine at the Rockland Public Library.

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When Lisa Weekes left the Lethbridge (Alberta) Public Library to become the Public Services Manager for the Chinook Arch Regional Library System, she brought her physical literacy programming expertise to her new role. At Lethbridge she and her staff successfully partnered with sports and recreation groups to develop fun physical activity programs for children and adults. At Chinook Arch, Lisa developed a new Physical Literacy collection and a series of training modules for librarians about how to incorporate physical activity into their programs. The library system purchased a series of equipment and large-scale games (e.g. juggling scarves, giant checkers, and an indoor mini-golf set) suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities. This equipment helped member libraries develop barrier-free, active living programming. In partnership with Lethbridge College and its Be Fit for Life Centre Chinook Arch offered workshop instruction on physical literacy for member libraries.  This expanded the librarians’ understanding of the range of possibilities available. The Let’s Move in Libraries supported this initiative by consulting with Lisa and her staff and by providing a letter of recommendation for one of their awards. Weekes spoke about the importance of these programs saying,” We have very long winters in Canada, and people are desperate to stay active during these months. As a parent, I know that you can’t just keep going to McDonald’s Play Place. Rural communities need a place for activity in winter,” and the library can fulfill that need.

The photos, courtesy of the staff at Lethbridge Public Library and the Chinook Arch Regional Library System, provide examples of physical literacy programming at Lethbridge Public Library, and show the Chinook Arch Regional Library System receiving an award to bring physical literacy collections and programs to rural libraries throughout Southwestern Alberta.

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Lessons learned: Don’t be afraid to reach out! At Lethbridge and at Chinook Arch, Lisa Weekes reached out to many people to help develop physical literacy collections and programs.

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