Sarah WoodruffUWindsor kinesiology professor Sarah Woodruff participated in the first national measure of children’s physical literacy.

Children’s physical literacy subject of “State of the Nation” report

About two-thirds of Canadian children haven’t achieved an acceptable level of physical literacy, says a national research project. UWindsor kinesiology professor Sarah Woodruff contributed to nine of the 14 related articles published Tuesday in the journal BMC Public Health.

The research team examined varying aspects of physical literacy, defined as the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.

Researchers applied the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy to more than 10,000 children aged 8 to 12 years across the country — including 1,300 in the Windsor area tested by Dr. Woodruff and her local team — in the first comprehensive use of the tool.

“Our study gives Windsor-Essex a great baseline that can be used to monitor changes over time and evaluate the impact of physical literacy programs in the future,” she said.

Woodruff is proud of her work to help develop a version of the assessment which is shorter and easier to administer. The updated series of tests are available free of charge at

The entire project was led by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) at the Research Institute of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada, ParticipAction, and Mitacs.

ParticipAction president Elio Antunes said the results show more work needs to be done.

“Every organization concerned with the well-being of children… should allocate additional resources to increase children’s physical literacy,” he said. “Additional education campaigns, greater priority in school curricula, and increased numbers of physical education specialists could have a real impact in the health of Canada’s children.”

Find the full set of articles on the journal’s website.

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