Developing an Intentionally Designed Physical Activity Model of Programming for Children’s Structured Recreation in Canada


  • Nadine Van Wyk Mount Royal University
  • Nicole Taylor McCallum University of Calgary
  • Larry Katz University of Calgary



recreation, physical activity, intentionally designed model, Canada, physical literacy


Sport and education organizations have established models to ensure that coaches and teachers understand the physical, social, emotional and mental development of children. Such pathways of intentionally designed models fail to exist in the recreation sector where many physical activity (PA) programs are mainly developed based on convenience and instructor availability rather than on established credentials and current pedagogy practices. Addressing this gap, this paper explores the creation of an intentionally designed model of programming for children’s structured recreation, which is defined as sport or PA-based programs that are planned and led by an instructor. This proposed model is contextualized within the province of Alberta, but may be applicable across the nation. The authors further define “intentionally designed” as the development of purposeful programming with specific objectives that align with outside sources. One such source comes from the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, who has created a Canadian Recreation Framework, an initiative to ultimately develop the well-being of all Canadians. The proposed, structured recreation model also incorporates several guiding principles including physical literacy and sport philosophy. Physical Literacy (PL) focuses on the lived body as the embodied dimension of our human experience, and how it can be enriched through various experiences that enable us to reach our full potential (Whitehead, 2007). It is about viewing the body holistically rather than separate from the entire being. By planning diverse PA in four environments, including land, water, air, and ice, the model also aligns with the sports sector and its philosophy of developing both fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills. Moreover, with allocated playing time, intentionally designed structured lesson plans, and one consistent leader in each activity, the model aims to increase the participants’ motor proficiency and levels of PA while building their confidence and competence across distinct exercises. The execution of the proposed recreation model involves a four-month program where participants rotate to a different PA environment each month and attend two classes per week, cumulating in 32 total classes. Management implications are discussed to determine how recreational professionals can achieve the intended outcomes of the model. Finally, further research is necessary to determine if this model can increase participants’ motor proficiency and positively influence physical activity behaviors in the recreation sector.






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