News Releases

Is Physical Literacy as important as reading and writing skills?

For Release Upon Receipt - May 16, 2016

St. Augustine

Expert Dean Kriellaars to discuss at 2nd UWI Sports and Higher Ed Conference   

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. May 16, 2016 – In 2013, 42 million infants and young children were overweight or obese. This was the finding of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and 70 million young children will be overweight by 2025 if current trends continue.  

So how do we curb the global epidemic of childhood obesity?  

Leading expert, Dean Kriellaars, Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba, says it can come through physical literacy. “Physical literacy is as essential as literacy. Just take ‘physical’ out and it’s the same as literacy: that’s how valued this must be,” he said during his 2013 presentation at the Canadian Sport for Life National Summit. He will share his subsequent findings as keynote speaker at The UWI’s 2nd Conference on Sport Studies and Higher Education with the theme, Physical Literacy: Gender, Science and Sport for Development beginning Wednesday May 18 at 6.30pm at the Learning Resource Centre, The UWI St. Augustine.  

The two-day conference – with full-day sessions on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 May, aims at presenting valuable information that will support athletes, sporting and fitness professionals, organisations and practitioners at all levels of society, bringing into focus a new evidence-based approach to sports. For the second edition, the First Citizens Sports Foundation has once again partnered with The UWI St. Augustine’s Sport, Fitness and Athletic Development Unit as the platinum sponsor, alongside the support of the Ministry of Sport and United Airlines.  

Physical literacy as described by Margaret Whitehead, a leading researcher, is “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.” Sociology of sport theorist, Professor Emeritus Jay Coakley, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs acclaims Kriellaars as the father of physical literacy. “He is a highly respected expert on teaching children through age appropriate methods the full range of physical movements that are needed across all sports,” he said. He cites Kriellaars as the inspiration behind the idea that, “physically literate children are more likely to stay physically active through life, less likely to be injured, and more likely to reach personal potential in any sport they choose to do, and more likely to do sport for reasons of joy and expression than for reasons of gaining external rewards or dominating others.” 

Kriellaars makes no bones about the need to engage the population in the physical literacy movement, “Obesity, physical inactivity and all the diseases downstream from that are running us over right now. And it’s a major problem. Physical literacy is our saviour.” At the Mini Summit for Developing Literacy, Kriellaars advances that physical literacy is essential to progress and can be achieved “by encouraging individuals to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments enables them to make healthy, active choices that are both beneficial to and respectful of their whole self, others, and their environment.”  

Local, regional and international presenters hailing from countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, the UK, USA, Lebanon and Canada will also address thematic areas such as Physical Education and Athletic Development; History, Psychology and Sociology of Sport; Nutrition, Youth and Student-Athletes and several others.


Registration is still open for this Conference. The registration fee is TT$500 and TT$250 for students. Special discounts can be arranged for groups of over 10 participants.  Registration includes access to conference material, meals and all sessions. For further information or registration, please contact Ms. Kyome Pascall Mortley at; Mrs. Camille Charles at or visit the website:






About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)