Physical literacy goes global with IPLC Europe

Sport for Life has been hosting an International Physical Literacy Conference (IPLC) in Canada every two years since 2013, and now for the first time it’s going global. In September we hosted, along with Change the Game, the first ever IPLC Europe in Umeå, Sweden.

“This has been one of our most ambitious undertakings, but it was the right time to make this particular leap to the global stage. Sweden has been a hotbed of activity when it comes to physical literacy initiatives, and it’s been incredibly refreshing to see how passionately they’ve embraced this movement,” said Sport for Life CEO Richard Way, who was one of the keynotes during the event.

“We had 250 delegates from 21 countries spanning the globe and the relationships we fostered during this event promise to pay real dividends in the years to come. For us to realize our vision for physical literacy, there needs to be cross-sectoral and cross-cultural collaboration and an approach that reaches across borders.”

Way was joined onstage by fellow keynotes Dr. Dean Kriellaars, Dr. PJ Naylor, Dr. John Cairney, Dr. Dean Dudley, and Andrea Carey. The topics addressed ranged from inclusion to physical literacy in community and schools to the need for more physical literacy research. The delegates were treated to a program that included a developing physical literacy dance party in the downtown square, as well as a variety of sessions and active workshops.

“Events like the International Physical Literacy Conference are like the Olympics. You represent your country, your Territory, your region, your town. There is a lot of preparation involved, you gain a lot of experience. You learn from it, you share your knowledge. The only difference in this case is, everyone wins,” said Thorsten Gohl, Physical Literacy Coordinator at Deh Gáh School in Northwest Territories, and one of the IPLC Europe delegates.

“Umeå was amazing, everyone was friendly and welcoming. The physical literacy movement is happening around the world and we went on a journey together for 3 days to discover the deeper meaning of this journey. It does not matter where you are from, what size, shape, colour or who you are, but that we all need to be inclusive and support each other to make the world a better place to be.”

The next IPLC will be held in New York City in 2021, and will be hosted by the New York Road Runners. For more information visit