At a meeting last week the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Olympic Committee’s (NOC) Sport For All (SFA) Commission included in its programming going forward the establishment of a new initiative – the NOC’s Sport For All Family Fitness Festival.
The initiative is intended to fit in with the NOC’s commitment to Sport For All as an integral component of its development strategy.
Sport For All
The concept of Sport For All is not necessarily new but it has received much traction in the recent past especially since the establishment of the international organisation, TAFISA, in 1991.
Accordingly TAFISA has declared that Sport for All is:
- Inclusive and open for all ages, genders, races, religions, abilities,
- An umbrella term which includes:
– physical activity
– leisure activity
– recreational activity
– active commuting
The clear understanding is that SFA makes a vital link with the concept of wellness. The human condition benefits from an active lifestyle.
Every individual, every community and every society should give pride of place to engaging in a life of physical activity for their respective well being. That is what SFA is all about.
SFA therefore is all-inclusive. The intention here it to emphasise that it is about every single individual in society. No one is left out. We are all reliant on each other for much more than mere survival.
SFA does not accept discrimination of any sort. Men and women, boys and girls are equal partners in the SFA undertaking. Those who are challenge din any way – physically or mentally – are incorporated in the activities planned by the SAF Commission of the NOC just as is the case with the international parent body, TAFISA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
SFA can usher in a new life for every individual and facilitate immense change at the community and broader societal levels.
It is in the aforementioned light that the NOC and its SFA Commission provided some measure of support for the initiative undertaken by Gweneth Anthony and Desiree Wilson on Sunday last to involve the People of the Street in Kingstown in an SFA activity around Kingstown. There is e very hope that this can emerge into something sustainable and not be left as a one-off activity.
The belief is that SFA possesses the potential to change lives and this not just in terms of the physical appearance of individuals involved.
TAFISA therefore highlights the following as the fundamental philosophical underpinnings of SFA:
- It is not a duty, but a chance.
Each individual who commits to SFA is afforded a chance to better oneself, one’s community and society at large. This effects change that enhances everyone involved. It can be permanent rather than temporary once we are of the view that it is sustainable.
- It is not only a physical activity, but a part of individual lifestyle and societies’ culture. Sociologist Ralph Linton (1954) informs us…The culture of a society is the way of life of its members; the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation.
The intention of SFA is to ensure that we change lives in a meaningful way and forever so that one generation after another can reap the benefits of engagement in physical activity and not see it for itself but as a means to a greater end, a better community, society and world.
- It is not only different sports with international rules, norms and standards, but a variety of changing and adapting rules, materials, facilities, target groups and possible situations.
Here the message is that change, inevitable as it is must be incorporated at all times. We strive to be accommodative as much as possible to the changes that impact us just as we impact change.
In our local context we ensure that we are always relevant; that we work the changes into our own recreational activities that may not necessarily conform to what is happening elsewhere in the world. This is particularly the case where our traditional games are concerned.
- It is not only a fixed program, but a wide field of and for flexibility and creativity, relaxation and recreation, experience and adventure.
We are called upon to be flexible and creative in what we do. What works for us and ensures that we are active, improving our wellness and engendering camaraderie and peace in our homes, communities and societies must be integrated into the scheme of things at the service of all.
- It is one way of self-realization and social integration.
The intention is that we come to a belief and recognition that engagement in SFA can effect greater cognizance of who we are and what we are about. It gives direction to our lives as we see all the more clearly.
SFA therefore seeks to bring the human condition through to its fullest potential. It is at once intended to compliment and complete us as human beings in this world in which we live.
There is now a global recognition of involvement in physical activity as a fundamental human right. It facilitates movement, coordination of movement, physical and mental awareness of self and one’s community and society.
SFA contextualises one’s individual achievement in physical development; locates it within the family, community and society as evidenced by the impact of Usain Bolt in Jamaica and Keshorn Walcott in Trinidad and Tobago.
Importantly, SFA addresses the all-important issue of facilities and equipment.
It is a moot point to speak of developing SFA in any society without paying due attention to the facilities and equipment necessary to make it work.
Many often boast of promoting involvement in physical activity but in reality do no more than pay lip service. They do nothing to engage themselves so they stand as delightfully poor examples of involvement in and the benefits of SFA. Consequently they do not provide the requisite facilities for the population to become fully integrated into the SFA Movement.
NOC’s SFA Family Fitness Festival
This NOC initiative is intended to take place every month, initially, then become more frequent..
In the first instance the Festival would start in Kingstown. This will be closely evaluated to ascertain the pros and cons as they emerge and corrective action undertaken with some dispatch so that an appropriate template can be developed.
Eventually, different communities would be encouraged to join the Festival by having it in their own areas on the very same Sunday, so that it becomes truly national in nature.
The first edition of the NOC’s SFA Family Fitness Festival comes off on Sunday 24 March during the period, 3.00pm – 6.00pm. The gathering point is South River Road. While that area will be the hub of our activities, there will be running, jogging, walking and riding around Kingstown, using the area from South River Road down to Police HQ, then across to Corea’s City Store, up to First Ct Vincent Bank, down to KFC and end at South River Road.
At South River Road itself there will be ample opportunities afforded the public to get involved in activities associated with different sporting disciplines as introduced by the affiliates of the National Olympic Committee. The intention here is to encourage affiliates to showcase their respective approaches to fitness and wellness, the foundation of their sport.
Community-based organisations are expected to be involved as well, helping to promote physical activity as the basis for wellness and a healthier community and society at large.
This Festival has immense potential and would eventually become a more frequent activity to aid in the development of heightened awareness of fitness and its impact on health and wellness.
Wherever the Festival takes place the same organisations are expected to be involved – the SFA Commission, the NOC, the NOC affiliates and community-based organisations..
The Festival, wherever it occurs is to remain non-governmental and non-politically partisan. Instead it is intended to serve as a unifying force across all of St Vincent and the Grenadines showcasing the power of physical activity.
The services of the Sports Medicine Association and the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, the Red Cross and Police are all needed to guarantee the success of the Festival.
People are expected to develop greater awareness of the importance of frequent medical checks, regular monitoring of their blood pressure, cholesterol count and other critical health factors as an integral component of the Festival.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines NOC and its Sport For All Commission are on the threshold of one of the most historic undertakings ever in this country.
This has been long in coming but ushers in a new phase in our national development; one that has the immense potential to transform our society as we have come to know it.
Change is possible and the Festival can effect the single most impactful change for all of us.
Let the Festival begin!