Guiding Principles

Since 1986, when the Jasper Talks - a national symposium on physical activity and disability - introduced the five guiding principles, active living partners have used them as a foundation from which to develop goals and activities that promote active living for Canadians with disabilities.

Principle #1: Quality of life is a fundamental right

Active living is an important and essential component in the quality of life of all people, and quality of life is among the fundamental rights of Canadians.

Active living increases overall well being by providing physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual benefits. Active living allows all of us to carry out activities of daily living with less fatigue and frustration, greater safety and more self-confidence.

Principle #2: Empowerment is the key

The empowered individual is the core of any successful program or service.

As society's awareness of people with disabilities has increased, so has the realization of the importance of self-determination and the opportunity to take charge of ones life. People with disabilities have a right to be involved in planning programs, choosing activities of interest, and initiating change when required. Self-empowerment does not mean, however, that individuals are left to act on their own. We live in a society that aims to promote interdependence, where people collaborate with others and receive support for acts of self-determination.

Principle #3: Every community should be involved

Programs and services are best delivered at the community level.

Since individuals are the core of any successful program or service, it follows that these programs and services should be implemented at the local level. This principle also implies that these community programs and services should be fully accessible to allow for maximum participation.

Principle #4: Equal access must be guaranteed

All individuals should have equal opportunity to participate in physical activities regardless of age, gender, language, ethnic background, economic status or ability.

This principle stresses that opportunities to participate in active living should focus on inclusion rather than exclusion; the individual rather than the statistical norm; and current needs and interests rather than historical precedence. There is a need to enhance organizational planning and policy development to be inclusive, and to continue efforts to eliminate discrimination within the system.

Principle #5: Respect and dignity are the foundation

Preserving the respect and dignity of all individuals is fundamental to the success of the active living movement.

The principles of dignity of risk, age appropriateness, personal satisfaction and freedom of choice are fundamental to providing programs and services for, by and to people with disabilities. Participation options should be available which are personally challenging and demanding, they should be geared to the participants' age group, and they should be varied enough that individuals can choose from a wide range of activities.