Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s newly-appointed Minister of Sport and Person’s with Disabilities struck a chord with me, and with many, when she recently said: “sport has been historically underutilized in government to address other broader social policy objectives”. I couldn’t agree more.
Qualtrough seemingly understands the incredible power of sport as a force for good – she is after all, a former Paralympian, and now human-rights lawyer. It’s incredibly gratifying to me, as it should be you too, to see someone with her personal and in-depth experience assume this new role.
Though we often think of ourselves as a country of sports fanatics, ParticipACTION tells us that over the past two decades, sport participation rates in Canadian youth aged 15 to 18 dropped from 77 per cent to 59 per cent–and in adults, from 45 per cent to 28 per cent. The organization also points out that over half of Canadian adults are considered inactive, and that only 7% of our children and youth are active enough for health benefits. Further, a mere 3% of people with physical disabilities are involved in sport.
Already eyeing opportunities for increased efficiency within the sector, Qualtrough is committed to maintaining funding for high-performance athletes and to investing in those of the next generation – the future medal earners. But happily, she’s not blind to the benefits of sport for the average Canadian, people like you and I who play for fun, fitness, to be active role models for our kids, and because sport builds community.
For most of us, sport participation isn’t actually about being the best, or about winning and losing, it’s about more important things – some that define us and our communities at the very core. November 21 is Sports Day in Canada – and whether you play a sport or not, there are opportunities and many good reasons for every Canadian to learn more about the value of sport and to join in the fun — you can even introduce your kids to tennis with these tips from parents and pros!
Want to make sport part of your life? Check out these 10 links for inspiration: