ABLEISM: Discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities. Ableism may include stereotyping, assumption making, attitudes and practices that favour non-disabled people, and environmental barriers.

ADOLESCENCE: The phase of life stretching between childhood and adulthood. Adolescence includes elements of biological growth and major social role transitions.

AGENDER: A person who does not identify themselves with a particular gender and/or sees themselves as having an undefinable/identifiable gender. Other words to describe agender can include genderless and gender neutral.

ASSIGNED SEX: The biological classification of a person as female, male or intersex. It is usually assigned at birth based on a visual assessment of external anatomy.

AUTONOMY: A person’s ability to make their own decisions, and act on their own values and interests (as opposed to being influenced by or told what to do by another person).

BODY IMAGE: The picture of our physical selves that we hold in our mind’s eye. Often this image does not resemble the way we actually look and competes with unrealistic weight or fitness expectations. Our emotions also affect our perceptions of our bodies.

BODY POSITIVITY: Feeling happy and proud of your body regardless of societal or cultural views of ideal shape and size.

BRAVE SPACE: In contrast to safe spaces, a brave space encourages participants to speak honestly and critically from their own experience, emphasizing authentic engagement rather than intentional or unintentional avoidance. Common features of brave spaces are controversy with civility, owning intentions and impacts, challenge by choice, and mutual respect.

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: A part of our physical surroundings; includes the buildings, parks, schools, road systems, and other infrastructure that we encounter in our daily lives.

CENTERING: An approach that places the person at the centre of the program or service and supports the person, allowing them to be involved in the decision-making process. The focus is on the person and their unique needs and experiences, not their condition, status, or (dis)ability.

CHILDHOOD: From the end of infancy — the first birthday — to the start of adolescence, and is characterized by relatively steady progress in growth and maturation and rapid progress in neuromuscular or motor development. It is often divided into early childhood (ages 1 to 5), and late childhood (ages 6 to the onset of adolescence).

CISGENDER: A person whose gender identity corresponds with what is socially expected based on their sex assigned at birth (e.g., a person who was assigned male at birth and identifies as a man).

CISHETEROPATRIARCHY: A system of society in which men, heterosexuals (especially heterosexual men), and those that conform to their assigned sex are privileged, dominant and hold power.

COLONIALISM: The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. SETTLER COLONIALISM describes the ongoing processes and structures that function through the replacement of Indigenous populations with an invasive settler society that, over time, develops a distinctive identity and sovereignty. In Canada and in other countries, the ascendancy of settler culture has resulted in the demotion and displacement of Indigenous communities, resulting in benefits that are unearned for settlers.

CONFIDENCE: A person’s overall feeling of positive self-worth and self-efficacy. In this sense, confidence refers to a person’s global self-regard, not just in a specific situation.

COMPETENCE: Having a positive feeling of your ability or actions in specific situations. This can include social, cognitive, academic, and vocational competence. For example, social competence refers to interpersonal skills (e.g., conflict resolution). Cognitive competence refers to cognitive abilities (e.g., decision making). Academic competence refers to school grades and attendance. Vocational competence involves work habits and career choices.

DEVELOPMENT: The interrelationship between growth and maturation in relation to the passage of time. The concept of development also includes the social, emotional, intellectual, and motor realms of the child. The terms growth and maturation are often used together and sometimes synonymously. However, each refers to specific biological activities. GROWTH refers to observable, step-by-step, measurable changes in body size such as height, weight, and percentage of body fat. MATURATION refers to qualitative system changes, both structural and functional in nature, in the organism’s progress toward maturity; for example, the change of cartilage to bone in the skeleton.

DISCRIMINATION: The denial of equal treatment and opportunity to individuals or groups because of personal characteristics and membership in specific groups, with respect to education, accommodation, health care, employment, access to services, goods, and facilities. This behaviour results from distinguishing people on that basis without regard to individual merit, resulting in unequal outcomes for persons who are perceived as different. Differential treatment that may occur on the basis of any of the protected grounds enumerated in human rights law.

ECOLOGICAL-INTERSECTIONAL SYSTEMS MODEL OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY FOR GIRLS: An ecological model that highlights the experiences of girls’ sport and physical activity. Specifically, the model groups together barriers and supports of sport and physical activity for girls. The model includes four different yet interconnected levels: individual, interpersonal, environmental, and societal. It also highlights the dynamic factors, including girls’ intersectional identities, that shape girls’ sport and physical activity experiences.

EMERGING ADULTHOOD: A period in development that represents the end of adolescence and transition into young-adulthood, spanning the late teens and early twenties (i.e., 18 to 25 years old). This period is typically characterized by increased independence, responsibilities, and identity exploration.

EQUALITY: The process of allocating resources, programs and decision making so that different groups have the same (e.g., in the case of gender, men and women would each receive 50% of the resources and facilities, and each have access to the same program).

EQUITY: The process of allocating resources, programs and decision-making fairly to all. This requires ensuring that everyone has access to a full range of opportunities to achieve the social, psychological and physical benefits that come from participating in sport and recreation. It does not necessarily mean making the same programs and facilities available to all. Gender equity requires that women, girls be provided with a full range of activity and program choices that meet their needs. Therefore, some activities may be the same as those offered to boys and men, some may be altered, and some may be altogether different.

EQUITY-DESERVING GROUPS: These groups identify barriers to equal access, opportunities and resources of communities that face significant challenge due to disadvantage and discrimination and actively seek social justice and reparation.

ETHNICITY (OR ETHNIC IDENTITY): A belonging to a social group based on common language and cultural and religious heritage or traditions, rather than physical appearance or attributes (i.e., ‘race’). For example, while you may derive your race from the colour of your skin, you may derive your ethnicity from the cultural traditions you participate in.

FIRST NATIONS: A term used to refer to Indigenous peoples in Canada who are neither Métis nor Inuit. First Nations people are original inhabitants of Turtle Island, or the land that is now Canada.

FUNDAMENTAL MOVEMENT SKILLS: The ‘building blocks’ of human movement. Fundamental movement skills are important for developing physical literacy, as well as the confidence, competence, and motivation to participate in sport and physical activity. These skills include rolling, swinging, sliding, skipping, running, jumping, among others.

GENDER: Socially constructed roles, relationships, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for girls/women and boys/men. Feminine and masculine are gender categories.

GENDER EXPRESSION: The way gender is presented and communicated to the world through clothing, speech, body language, hairstyle, voice and/or the emphasis or de-emphasis of body characteristics and behaviours.

GENDER IDENTITY: A person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is not necessarily visible to others, and it may or may not align with what society expects based on assigned sex.

GENDERFLUID: A person whose gender identity is experienced as being on a spectrum that varies over time.

GENDERQUEER: A person who experiences attraction to people of the same sex and/or gender as themselves. Individuals who identify as genderqueer may move between genders, identify with multiple genders, or reject the gender binary or gender altogether.

GENDER ROLES: Refers to how one is expected to act speak, dress, groom, and conduct oneself in society based upon one’s assigned sex at birth (i.e., male, female). For example, girls and women are generally expected to be nurturing and the caregivers. Men and boys are generally expected to be strong and the providers.

GIRL-CENTERED DESIGN: An approach that places girls at the centre of program design and implementation, with the purpose of developing, strengthening, and expanding programs for adolescent girls. A program which follows a Girl-Centered Design identifies the population of girls that the program will serve, centres them in the design by engaging them in consultation and safe spaces, and specifically tailors the program to meet their unique needs.

HAIR HARASSMENT: Involves unwanted, unwelcomed and offensive comments or actions (e.g., physical touching of hair) targeting women or girls of African descent based on the texture or look of their hair.

This type of harassment can be instigated by peers and can create an environment that feels unwelcoming or unsafe for Black girls.

HARRASSMENT: Harassment is a form of discrimination. It involves any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates a person, whether subtle or overt. Generally, harassment is a behaviour that persists over time. Serious one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment.

HETERONORMATIVE: Denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.

HETEROSEXUAL: A person who experiences attraction to people of a different gender. Also referred to as “straight”.

HOMOPHOBIA: An irrational fear or intolerance (either conscious or unconscious) of lesbians and gay men. IMPLICIT HOMOPHOBIA refers to homophobic behaviours and language which are implied but not plainly expressed.

INCLUSION: The removal of physical, cultural, economic, and attitudinal barriers to ensure that no one is excluded from sport or physical activity. True inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation and a true sense of belonging for all participants.

INDIGENOUS: Within North America, Indigenous means “native to the area” and is an umbrella term for First Nations, Métis and Inuit. It can be used to refer to these groups either collectively or separately. As a proper name for a people, the term is capitalized to form “Indigenous peoples.” Its meaning is similar to “Aboriginal Peoples,” “Native Peoples” or “First Peoples”.

INDIGENOUS SELF-DETERMINATION: A structure in which Indigenous communities may control the administration of their people, land, resources and related programs and policies, through agreements with federal and provincial governments.

INTERSECTIONALITY: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, that creates overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

INVISIBLE DISABILITY: A physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities.

LONG-TERM DEVELOPMENT IN SPORT AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity is an updated framework from Sport for Life describing the appropriate development of every child, youth, and adult to enable optimal participation in sport and physical activity. It considers growth, maturation and development, trainability, and sport system alignment. (see LTD 3.0, page 6

LGBTQI2S: An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Two-Spirit and additional sexual orientations and gender identities. Increasingly, this acronym (or similar versions) is used to describe a broad community of sexually and gender diverse people.

MISOGYNY: An ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place self-identifying women and anyone who is woman-aligned or feminine of centre in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making.

Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, violence, and the sexual objectification of women. Though commonly associated with men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves.

NEWCOMER: Someone who has recently immigrated to Canada.

NEURODIVERSITY: Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits. The word neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities.

NON-BINARY PERSON: Persons whose reported gender is, for example, agender, pangender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or gender-nonconforming. It also includes persons whose reported gender is Two-Spirit, a term specific to some Indigenous peoples of North America. It includes persons whose reported gender is both male and female, neither male nor female, or either male or female in addition to another gender. It may also include those who reported or were reported by proxy as questioning or in the process of deciding.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Any movement of the body that expends energy, such as participation in sport, dance, or exercise.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION: A school subject designed to help children and youth develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for participating in active, healthy living. Quality physical education programs provide the best opportunity to develop physical literacy in children and youth, helping them make healthy and active choices now and throughout their lives. Regardless of age, gender, culture, socio-economic status or ability, children who have the opportunity to participate in quality physical education programs throughout their school year’s experience a variety of activities in a progressive, sequential format that ensures maximum learning and enjoyment.

PHYSICAL LITERACY: The motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life (

PRIVILEGE: The experience of unearned freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities afforded some people because of their group membership or social context.

QUALITY SPORT: Quality sport and physical experiences are positive, satisfying, and enjoyable for the participant. The Sport for Life Society defines quality sport and physical activity as “good programs, in good places, led by good people.” It is further defined as developmentally appropriate, safe and inclusive, and well-run, leading to individual excellence and optimum health.

QUESTIONING: An umbrella term for the process of reconciling: 1) All the feelings you have within yourself about how you experience your attraction and/or gender, 2) The language you have available to you to describe those feelings, and 3) Your sense of how this will impact your interactions with others in your social context.

RACISM: The belief that racial or ethnic differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race, and refers to the behaviour and attitudes (e.g., discrimination, prejudice, and systemic oppression) against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

READINESS: A child’s level of growth, maturity, and development that enables her/him to perform tasks and meet demands through training and competition.

RETENTION: A measure of the number or percentage of participants that enter a program and are still in the program at follow-up.

ROLE MODEL: An individual regarded as a good example, inspirational ideal, or who inspires others by their behaviours. For example, a role model can be a family member, peer, teacher, or celebrity that demonstrates attainable success and provide girls with encouragement and confidence in and outside of sport. Role models are important for promoting girls continued participation in sport.

SAFE SPORT: A sporting environment that is respectful, equitable, and free from all forms of harassment, maltreatment, and abuse including physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, and neglect. A Safe Sport environment is one that prioritizes the health and well-being of all sport participants (e.g., athletes, coaches, officials, trainers, administration, and staff) and believes that everyone has the right to an enjoyable and safe environment.

SELF-EFFICACY: A person’s belief in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal in a given situation based on the skills they have.

SELF-ESTEEM: The degree of worth and competence that we attribute to ourselves.

SEXUAL IDENTITY: How one thinks of oneself in terms of to whom one is romantically or sexually attracted. Examples include heterosexual (i.e., attraction to persons of opposite sex), bisexual (i.e., attraction to both males and females), homosexual (i.e., attraction to persons of same sex), asexual (i.e., lack of or absent attraction to others), and pansexual (i.e., attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity).

SOCIAL SUPPORT: Having friends, family, and other individuals that you can turn to generally, or in times of need that provide care and emotional support or comfort. Social support provides a sense of belonging and can increase girls’ motivation to participate in physical activity.

SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS: Also known as SES, refers to the social standing or class of an individual or group. It is often measured as a combination of education, income, and occupation.

SPECIALIZED TRAINING ENVIRONMENTS: Refers to National Sport Organization-driven identification and development of environments for targeted athletes that include access to state-of-art training facilities, world-leading coaches, and that advance support in technology, research, sport science and sport medicine. Specialized training environments have the required quality, daily training hours to achieve gold medal profile indicators and required competition results.

SPORT: Broadly defined as physical activities that involve competition and rules, and that develop specific skills.

STEREOTYPE: The broad, often inaccurate characteristics of a cultural, ethnic or racial group used to describe an individual thought to be a member of that group. Example: All boys enjoy hockey. All girls enjoy dance.

SEXISM: The perpetuation of prejudice, stereotyping, and/or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex. The disparities between men and women are simply taken as givens and are reinforced by practices, rules, policies, and laws that often seem neutral on the surface but in fact disadvantage women.

TRANSGENDER: A person whose gender identity does not correspond with what is socially expected based on their sex assigned at birth. It can be used as an umbrella term to refer to a range of gender identities and experiences.

TRANSPHOBIA: An irrational dislike, fear of, or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people. Transphobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions towards transgender people.

TRAUMA-SENSITIVE APPROACH: A trauma-sensitive approach to sport and physical activity supports healing for children affected by trauma. In a trauma-sensitive approach, practitioners create a supportive environment by harnessing social and environmental protective factors that can contribute to children’s resilience.

TWO SPIRIT (2S): An English umbrella term to reflect and restore Indigenous traditions forcefully suppressed by colonization, honouring the fluid and diverse nature of gender and attraction and its connection to community and spirituality. It is used by some Indigenous People rather than, or in addition to, identifying as LGBTQI2S.