Language and literacy are considered essential to the educational process. Physical literacy is just as important to the process of educating children.
Gym class and physical activities in elementary schools introduce children to the concept of group activities at their prime age for learning the fundamental skills of movement.
Taekwondo Master David Arsenault, founder and executive director of the “Champions for Life” foundation, noticed in his 28 years of teaching martial arts to children as young as four to adults of all ages, that the crucial age for learning what is called “physical literacy” for participation in group activities are children aged five to eight years old.
Arsenault, a well-known figure in the West Island, more widely known as “Master David” to the thousands of individuals he trained over the past 28 years via his Interclub Taekwondo organization, including NHL players Vincent Lecavalier and Matthew Lombardi, told The Suburban that he created the Champions for Life Foundation because he feels strongly about giving back to the community and filling a gap. ‘The Gap’ he explains, is the lack of literacy conducive to physical movement being taught to children today.
His program includes a complete manual and an app for instructors. Program instructors are also made available for on site training.
Through its fundraising, the Champions for Life Foundation offers a program for five-eight year-old children in low socioeconomic schools while supporting camps and community centres. In 2018-2019, the Champions for Life program was present in 86 schools across the province of Quebec with an ever growing reach. The program is offered in 10 Lester B. Pearson schools and with a new initiative, the foundation is providing physical literacy resources to all the physical education teachers of the school board. Arsenault hopes to share the program across the entire country and is currently holding conferences Canada-wide working towards actualizing his vision.
Arsenault explained to The Suburban that learning physical literacy at a crucial age is essential to opening options for the future of our youth. Without physical literacy, children may bypass important opportunities. Arsenault considers these skills to be essential to the foundation of physical education. His initiative to create and to spread his program is a gift of knowledge for future generations.