In compiling articles for this issue of the PHE Journal, I was struck by how many of them touch on the remarkable power of community.
There’s the amazingly dedicated team behind the National Ballet School’s Sharing Dance Day, for example. Last year, the event was named a Canada 150 Signature Project, and its coordinators took the program on a cross-country tour, inspiring and moving students, parents and teachers from coast to coast.
Laruen McNamara founded The Recess Project—an award winning, evidence based endeavour—to create great play environments in high priority schools that are inclusive and accessible to all Canadian children. Now, joining forces with PHE Canada, the movement can broadening its scope to schools across the country.
On a similar note, dedicated professionals at Earth Day Canada have recently started to roll out the OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) program in Ontario. It's a project dedicated to making sure children have the time, space and permission to play outdoors, in a freely chosen and self-directed way. In partnership with the TDSB, OPAL will land in 42 Toronto-area schools by 2020, with an eye on national participation down the road.
This issue's peer reviewed article, The Secret of S.M.I.L.E: Best Practices for Delivering Adapted Physical Activity Programming, examines how one program has discovered lasting impact because of a community’s commitment and support. Among other issues, the paper examines the lessons learned about community engagement and considers how other communities can take part in something similar.
On a personal note, recently a very good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our own little local community of tight-knit parents quietly and powerfully stepped up, bringing her son into our homes as familly, arranging rides to and from endless hospital appointments, batch-cooking meals, researching chemo care, finding pockets of humour in the toughest of days, and the list goes on. It's our friend who has the toughest job in all of this, of course, but In hindsight the group of us accomplished quite a bit, even though in the moment many hands seemed to make light work. Being part of a community with a clearly defined mission had the effect of raising everyone’s game.
I’m happy to report our friend is now cancer free. And each of us is a little transformed and a little stronger for the experience of working together with such single-mindedness, toward a shared goal.
Whether it’s a community of likeminded parents caring for one of their own, or a group of dedicated physical and health education advocates working together to change attitudes and actions for the well-being of Canadian children, the impact of a village—with its collective wisdom, motivation and inspiration—can be transformative.
There really is untold strength in committed and passionate numbers.