AfL contest reveals healthy state of Canada’s schools

Active for Life recently held a contest and asked you, our valuable readers, why your school deserved to win 100 Kangaropes donated by AfL role model and super-generous friend, David Kittner.

There was an overwhelming response to the contest which included many thoughtful and informative comments on our social media channels. Your comments combined created something of a “state of the nation” when it comes to physical activity across Canada.

Here’s what you told us:

Parents and educators are invested in helping kids develop physical literacy

And at many, many schools, parents and educators are working side-by-side to promote physical activity.

Instagram poster “Maione76” is a member of a parent council that, she noted, takes “an active role in initiating and complementing a healthy attitude at school.”

Parents and educators are committed to being role models

Jenny Dawson, a parent council member from Ecole Sainte-Genevieve in Ottawa, Ontario told us about a spring event at her children’s school. The event had a skipping station at which parents joined with students. It was a great opportunity to jump with the kids and to teach the kids, “basic skipping, long rope skipping, and double Dutch skipping.”

Grade 6 teacher, Kim Bates, from British Columbia, works with mostly students who are learning English and some who are refugees. “Many of them,” she pointed out, “have not been exposed to ‘non-traditional’ sports and activities and access to jump ropes would help me provide them with instruction.” Not only is Bates a school teacher, she also teaches
dance to both kids and adults, and works as a speed skating official.

Educators get that movement leads to improved academic performance

We had many respondents who expressed the knowledge that healthy bodies equal healthy minds. Many noted the fact that physical activity leads to students being more focused and that it boosts cognitive performance.

Ellen Au, from Calgary, Alberta, commented that physical activity breaks between classes are great, “to improve blood flow to (students’) brains and release extra energy to improve focus and concentration.”

Many schools offer a variety of “out of the box” physical activities

Instagram respondent @doucetlori from New Brunswick told us about her school which has introduced yoga and indoor bikes.

Adam James from Airdrie, Alberta, told us about Heloise Lorimer School, which holds an annual “active living week” that involves students from K to 8 taking part in four or five physical activity field trips. The school also takes their students on canoeing and skiing trips.

Heather Fish Adams from Mortlach School in Saskatchewan reported that the school is implementing various options, including painting games on the pavement of their schoolyard to motivate kids of “varying interest” to be physically active.

And we were blown away by the number of schools with skipping teams!

Physical literacy is for everyone

Heather Clemmer, from the “wee small country community” of Drayton, Ontario reported that Drayton Heights has “many special needs students who would love to keep active with their friends even in wheelchairs.”

Schools are embracing healthy food

You let us know that while some schools have junk food available on-site, many schools have recognized and met the need for nutritious food.

Gwendolyn MacDonald-Urby from Iona, Nova Scotia, told us about the focus on overall health at Rankin School of the Narrows which includes both physical activities and a breakfast program.

Sunshine Hanan of Coquitlam, B.C. reported that with a large number of students struggling with poverty, her school managed to access funding for a breakfast program. “Now that we have kids with full bellies,” she remarks, “we can look to other aspects of healthy kids and healthy learning.”

And, Kim Chrichton-Struthers let us know about Bracebridge Public School in Ontario where “the school tries to model a healthy lifestyle by offering a mobile salad bar, snacks of fruit & veg, (and) fundraising without using junk food … rewards.”

We at AfL are so thankful for your interest in our contest and we’re grateful that you shared your stories of keeping your kids physically active.

Our mission is that all kids in Canada will have the opportunity to develop physical literacy so they can be active for life. We hope to keep this conversation going and connect parents and educators across the country so you can share best practices and support each other.

Congratulations to the winner, Nicole Ingram Nicholson, who was chosen randomly from all participants. We know the skipping ropes will be put to great use at your kids’ school, Nicole.

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