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DON’T WALK IN THE HALLWAY: ENERGIZER ACTIVITIES

Originally published in Healthy Schools Alberta Magazine Fall 2016 Edition Recognizing the importance of promoting healthy learning environments, floor decals offer a way to modify school spaces, helping to activate your students and enliven your lessons. Activities that range in intensity have demonstrated the ability to increase a student’s readiness to learn. The Don’t Walk…
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TRAIL TALES: STORIES THAT MOVE YOU

Written by Tracey Coutts and Scott Bailey Looking for a versatile, cost-effective way to increase physical activity and improve literacy in your school community?  Well, have we got a tale for you. Trail Tales was launched in Parkland School Division 70 as a means to promote physical activity and literacy, while enhancing the active travel…

MY HEART IS FULL: COMBATING COVID-19 THROUGH TRADITIONAL SKILLS

Written by Chelsea Cattroll, Ever Active Schools, with support from Dr. Kevin wâsakâyâsiw Lewis, kâniyâsihk Culture Camps We turn to the land when we are stressed to re-connect to ourselves and become grounded. During a time that can be perceived as stressful and turbulent, I have seen that many people are starting to return to…

DR. JOHN SPENCE ON THE 2020 PARTICIPACTION REPORT CARD

For the past 14 years, ParticipACTION has released report cards that grade Canadians on their physical activity behaviours. The report cards bring together data from a variety of sources to give evidence-based grades on a number of different indicators. Dr. John Spence is a Professor and Vice Dean at the University of Alberta within the…
walking/standing in leaves

WALKING YOUR WAY TO A MINDFUL STATE

Written by Chesa Peter, School Health Facilitator, Ever Active Schools. Originally published in Healthy Schools Alberta Magazine Special Edition: Active Transportation IN RECENT YEARS, THE NUMBER OF STUDIES ON MINDFULNESS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF EDUCATION HAS INCREASED DRAMATICALLY. Many studies have demonstrated strong correlations between mindfulness practice and cognitive outcomes such as improved attention and…

WHY FREE PLAY OUTSIDE SHOULD BE A PART OF EVERY PE PROGRAM

Written by David Benay. Originally published at Active for Life PHYSICAL EDUCATION DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN IN A GYMNASIUM. I’m a big proponent of active free play outside during physical education (PE) class. In my PE classes, I plan for quite a lot of it when the weather allows. There are so many benefits of free play outside…

DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IDEAS

DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IS ESSENTIAL IN SCHOOLS FOR MANY REASONS. Sure, DPA is important (even critical!) to health and learning outcomes, but it is also a lot of fun! How great is it to see students smiling, working and problem solving with others? And hearing all the laughter? So much is being experienced in those moments…

LIVE ACTIVE SUMMIT 2018 RECAPPED

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YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A P.E. SPECIALIST TO INSPIRE A LOVE OF MOVEMENT!

Written by Chesa Corsiatto, School Health Facilitator, Ever Active Schools As an educator, you’re part of numerous aspects of your student’s development. It’s a big job, and at times it can seem overwhelming. Focusing on your strengths as an individual and as an educator is often comfortable and safe. This is okay. Actually, it’s great!…

HOW TO INVOLVE PARENTS IN THE PHYSICAL LITERACY CONVERSATION

Written by Chris Fenlon-MacDonald, Provincial Education Coordinator, Ever Active Schools WHAT IS PHYSICAL LITERACY? The term ‘physical literacy’ is becoming more widely understood in school communities, especially as we strive to make tangible connections between physical activity and learning outcomes. Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement defines physical literacy as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge…

Physical Literacy Mentorship 2019/2020: Recess

Children play on a playground at recess.

Re-defining Recess.

Recess in schools is often defined traditionally as outdoor physical activity. Though we would all agree that physical activity, and even being outdoors, is critical to the growth and development of children and youth, in some cases it may not be meeting the rest, leisure and play needs of all students

When we explore those needs, we can quickly see that while some students benefit from moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during recess, others may benefit equally from quietly reading a book or completing a puzzle. Do our recess environments meet these needs? In order to adequately meet the needs of all students, we may need to re-define what recess means.

SO, WHY IS RECESS IMPORTANT AND HOW CAN WE BETTER SUPPORT STUDENTS THROUGH RECESS?

We chose to focus on recess this year because of the ever-present challenges with helping recess becoming a more meaningful space for students and school staff. Cold weather policies and prohibited outdoor time are common hurdles for Alberta school communities. Recess was also chosen as an opportunity to further the action and knowledge sharing around normalizing physical activity (PA) and movement throughout the entire school day, rather than emphasizing PA primarily during recess and physical education. By re-defining recess to something more akin to Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (e.g., rest, play and leisure) we can then compliment the work by sharing ideas, techniques and strategies that can be employed during classroom/instructional time as well as the hours before- and after-school.

Our goal with the physical literacy mentorship is to normalize physical activity across a student's school day by increasing:

  1. Physical activity opportunities for students within the school community;
  2. Physical activity opportunities for students outside of standard school hours;
  3. Teacher knowledge and self-efficacy around physical activity and aspects of well-being.

INCREASING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY

We created new physical activity opportunities for students through the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) Youth Run Club; a new cold-weather recess plan; and adding and enhancing playground stencils.

Through the AMA Youth Run Club, a free, fun and flexible program, students were encouraged to be physically active in a non-traditional sport setting. The program draws participation from students who do not usually choose to be active through its inclusive resources and flexibility.

With the newly-developed Cold Weather Recess Planning Guide, we showed schools ways to increase physical activity when the temperature dips below what the school district allows for outdoor play. Strategies include a Polar Club, where parents can sign off for students to be outdoors at lower temperatures; and student recess leaders, who are older students that teach games to their younger peers indoors during recess time.

Playground stencils provide students with opportunities to engage with their environment to create play. Often, these stencils encourage self-directed play opportunities and students can be found playing alone or with their peers, creating and facilitating games amongst themselves.

INCREASING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY OPPORTUNITIES OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL HOURS

We connected students to Active School Travel, providing them with new ideas on how to move to and from school in a way that keeps them active and healthy. We also partnered with local recreation and community centres to provide passes for students and their families to visit the facilities and try out different programs.

Active School Travel (AST) encourages students to get outside and walk or wheel to school. Through AST, we work with the school and community to ensure safe routes to school within the community. This could look like changed traffic flow during high traffic times, no parking zones, bike safety courses, or many other things. There are even opportunities for students who don't live within the schools' walk zone to participate, such as by getting dropped off a few blocks from the school. Students who travel actively to school get in more physical activity per day, which can lead to better focus in class.

Partnering with recreation facilities not only increases the value of community, it also provides all families with access to physical activity — something that is a barrier, particularly for new Canadian families. It encourages the entire family to spend time together being active, which in turn can see students choosing to be active for life.

INCREASING TEACHER KNOWLEDGE AND SELF-EFFICACY AROUND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND ASPECTS OF WELL-BEING

Providing professional learning is something Ever Active Schools has always done well, so it is a natural fit within the physical literacy mentorship. We provided teachers with presentations around Recess, Loose Parts Play, Social and Emotional Learning, and Activity Permissive Learning Environments. By increasing teacher confidence and competence to facilitate physical activity, we help to normalize physical activity throughout the school day as an integration with other learning.

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