Interview of Peter Hörnemalm and Tom Englén
Head of Departement, Umeå's Municipality and Physical literacy coordinator at Change the game
2019, April 24th
Umea city appears to be extremely active in the promotion of physical activity, with children in particular. How and why did this interest start?
The city has been keen on promoting physical activity for many years, but in 2014 a new local collaboration started – Change the game – and we started a collaboration between sectors in a more productive way. It started by an initiative from Balticgruppen Inc with the aim to help children stay longer in sports and immediately other sectors jumped on board.
What is the physical literacy concept, and why has Umea embraced it?
Change the game adopted “Physical Literacy” in 2016 and the concept is about a new perspective on how we can create conditions where children are more physically active. Physical literacy is a journey where you increase your competence and confidence to move, in all different physical and social environments, in order to be intrinsically motivated to be active and participate in activities. It´s about creating positive challenges of all levels of ability and for all interests. Physical Literacy serves as a compass for designing activities and environments. Now our vision is a “physical literacy community”, where all sectors work together based on physical literacy. We also try to inspire other cities to do the same, in order to learn from each other. Several other cities in Sweden are now starting networks and the journey as a physical literacy community. We believe that is an effective way to get more people more active and give them equal rights and conditions to give themselves a healthy lifestyle. When we adopted physical literacy even more sectors joined, for example education, health and city planning. The expression “Physical literacy brings everybody to the table” is really true here in Umeå.
As concerns sport and physical activity, in which areas can Umea city improve and how does it plan to do so?
There’s still many things to work on even though Umeå was awarded a prize as the number 1 City of Sports in Sweden in 2018. For the municipality it’s very important that the sports movement is free and independent. Swedish sport has chosen to work on the basis of five priority development trips in their vision for 2025 and for the municipality it’s important to support that work. This is mainly done in cooperation with the regional sports federation. Most of these five priority development trips can also relate to the work with Physical Literacy.
- A new approach to training and competition
- The modern association
- Inclusive Sport for all
- Gender equality for a successfull sport
- Strengthening leadership
We also collaborate closely with the Umeå School of Sport Sciences at Umeå University, which was appointed as a national sports university a couple of years ago.
They do a fantastic job with elite athletes who wish to combine competetive sports and academic studies. But we have identified that we need to work more with the conditions for elite athletes who aren’t studying at university, which is why we are currently cooperating with the regional sports federation in order to start a project on this matter.
Regarding Physical activity, as you know we truly believe that Physical Literacy can help us improve the physical and mental health for our citizens. Right now the municipality is working hard to develop and improve our city planning according to physical literacy. A couple of months ago week we had a really inspiring workshop in Umeå. Around 50 persons gathered to work with city planning in a new future part of Umeå with the theme Physical Literacy. This workshop was held by the national government office and gathered people from some Swedish authorities, universities, Umeå Institute of Design, the county council, regional and national sports federation, architectural firms, many different parts of the municipality, company representatives etc. Really exciting days with discussions on how we can plan, develop and build a new city part in Umeå which will inspire people to get more physical literate in Umeå.
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