gymnastics: the heart of physical literacy

The Foundation of All Movement 

When you think of gymnastics, what do you think of? World champions competing at the Olympics? Kids doing cartwheels? Parent and tot drop-ins? Gymnastics is more than just a sport — it teaches movement education.

Gymnastics teaches fundamental movement patterns, which are the foundation of all movement. Whether it is a child learning to do their first forward roll or a senior learning fall prevention, there are gymnastics activities for all ages and abilities. 

Gymnastics BC is committed to providing opportunities for participants to develop socially and mentally, as well as physically. GBC is embarking on a journey to foster engagement of underrepresented populations in sport!

Underrepresented populations in sport include females, seniors, and children with disabilities.

Benefits of Gymnastics:

  • Foundational movement skills: gymnastics builds foundational movement patterns used in everyday life.
  • Healthy bodies: the foundational movement skills taught in gymnastics classes help
  • Healthy minds: sport participation can help reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall mental health.
  • Fostering leadership: sports allow participants with opportunities to strategize and lead others to achieve their goals.
  • Building new connections: gymnastics allows participants the opportunity to socialize with others from different backgrounds, forge friendships, and build networks.

Gymnastics & Underrepresented Populations

1. Advancing Females in Sport, and Building Physical Literacy

Engaging Females in Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a predominantly female sport, with over 5 female athletes for every single male athlete in BC. GBC works every day, engaging with females to build physical literacy.

Women in Sport: Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation reports that girls and women are significantly behind men in terms of sport participation.

According to Women in Sport: Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation, Statistics on Female Participation in Sport: 

  • 41 per cent of girls age three to 17 do not participate in sport.
  • 84 per cent of adult women do not participate in sport.
  • Only 29 per cent of sport board members are women.
  • Only 17 per cent of head coaches in collegiate sport are women.
  • Women received only four per cent of the coverage on Canada’s national sports networks in 2014, and only 5.1 per cent in print media over a four-year period.
2. Building the Physical Literacy of Seniors

Nearly one-fifth of B.C.’s population is over 65 years of age, and the number of seniors is expected to rise from 916,400 in 2018 to 1.4 million by 2032.

How Gymnastics BC is Building the Physical Literacy of Seniors

The Seniors Can Move gymnastics program was developed by a GBC member club in 2018, and enables seniors to take part in physical activity in a gymnastics setting. Thanks to a government grant of $150,000, the program is using physical literacy to help participants regain their mobility and enhance their physical literacy. Aside from improving seniors’ physical health, the program allows seniors to develop valuable meaningful connections.

The classes include simple stretching routines, as well as other exercises designed to help improve agility, balance, co-ordination and strength.

Based on the program, a course is being built which will be taught and replicated at other gymnastics facilities across the province.

3. Gymnastics for those with Special Needs

Gymnastics BC member, Club Aviva, alongside registered charity Symington Symbiotics Foundation (SSF), have operated the Empowering Steps program for the past 17 years. This program was specifically developed to improve the quality of life for individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD) such as FASD, Cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome, anxiety disorders, behavioral issues and other specified and unspecified diagnosis. Empowering Steps provides behavioral intervention, movement therapy, and motor intervention for children with Autism and/or other NDD’s. 

Children with NDD are faced with a broad range of challenges affecting physical, behavioral, and psychosocial aspects of life. 

What Sets Empowering Steps Apart?

The setting in which Empowering Steps operates is unique in that the program utilizes community pools and gymnastic facilities that allow for a natural, inclusive environment. This allows children to participate with their peers, and often their own siblings.

To learn more about this program, visit the Empowering Steps website