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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE JOY4ALL PROJECT

By the student team behind Joy4All It’s important to celebrate all things big and small as we move into another spring focussed on virtual learning and caring for the well-being of our families, friends, and communities. Here at Ever Active Schools, we recently celebrated the very first birthday of The Joy4All Project: a phone hotline…
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A blackboard with a lightbulb placed on it and a chalk drawing of a thought bubble around the bulb to indicate a thought or idea.

USING ARTS TO EXPLORE WELLNESS

Submitted by Karena Munroe, Calgary Board of Education Special thank you to co-authors Cindy Thomson and her grade 7 classes In my School District, students and teachers have sent a resounding message through an internal survey about the importance of prioritizing school wellness responses as critical work in our school development planning. I set out…
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Close up of green leaves from below with sunshine above and a sun spot creating an orange ring.

CRAFTING MEANINGFUL LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Beginning in September 2020, Ever Active Schools began to question our practice of territory land acknowledgements. The tipping point for some staff could be expressed in the words of Kay Ho: “Oftentimes, when non-Indigenous organizers make a territory acknowledgement, it is done hastily, and then discarded.” (2014, An Introduction to Settler Colonialism: Part Three) This…
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JANUARY EVENTS WRAP UP

This year has started out strong here at Ever Active Schools!  Every year, we host events specific to helping school communities increase their capacity for wellness. Some events are specific to youth, as students as change agents is an essential condition for comprehensive school health; while others take a broader approach, looping in teachers, administrators,…
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FOUR REASONS TO TRY PODCASTS FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Podcasts are a rich source of information, stories and entertainment, with a surprisingly wide range of topics: the history of the elevator, the secret world of moss, Dolly Parton, and much, much more. Many of us listen to podcasts while we cook, travel, or move our bodies – but have you ever considered using podcasts…
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WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH SHAPING THE FUTURE 2021?

It’s officially 2021, which can only mean one thing: it’s almost time for Shaping the Future! In the best interest of public health, the conference will be held entirely online this year. This is as new for us as it is for you, so bear with us! We’re doing everything we can to make Shaping…
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LEARNING TO EMBRACE THE COLD WEATHER

Written by Chesa Peter and Kayli McClelland If you’ve lived in Alberta between October and May (okay, really, any time of year), you know that our winters here can be harsh! The cold weather isn’t going anywhere and neither are we, so it’s time to learn to get along. The Cold Weather Recess Planning Guide…
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REFLECTION, GRATITUDE, GROWTH AND THE FUTURE

My mom’s birthday is September 3rd, and I remember how excited she would always get at this time of year. It was back to school, back to routine and schedules. As a child I never shared her optimism for summer’s end; but as the years go on I find myself with the same enjoyment of…
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A laminated, corrugated plastic board with an image on it that says "Trail Tales". This is the introductory page to inform passersby of the purpose of the Trail Tales project.

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…
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A TRADITIONAL FOODS CAMP IN ENOCH, ALBERTA

Written by Chelsea Cattroll, Ever Active Schools Once upon a time, in a not-so-distant past, Ever Active Schools and Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) launched a project called Miyomahchihowin (“In Good Health” in Cree). This project aimed to support pathways to employment and post-secondary education for Indigenous youth. Fast forward a few years and new…
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School Sport for All

Side view of five teenage sprinters in sportswear lined up ready to race at the stadium

If School is for All, School Sport is for All.

Sport is a powerful mechanism for social impact, community engagement, cultural pride and self-worth. Participation in school sport has been connected to increased educational benefits, creating a strong sense of belonging, improving wellbeing and student attendance and the likelihood of attending post-secondary institutions.

Participation in sport provides students with opportunities to develop a lifelong love of physical activity and to practise some of the social and emotional skills that will help them later in life. Schools are an opportune place to provide sport programs as they act as an access point for students.

However, as it exists today, the middle school sport model is not equipped to encourage participation. Schools often lack the best facilities and trained coaches, and sports tend to cater to financially stable families who can afford to put their kids in sports in and outside of school, and those who can reliably get their kids to and from events. The students who play competitively have more opportunity to develop as athletes in quality facilities with trained coaches, therefore making them the better competitors and the ones chosen to play on the school teams. It’s a reality that leaves many students behind.

According to the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (2014), children of recent immigrants are less likely to participate in sports (32%) than children of Canadian-born parents (55%), limiting their exposure to the varying benefits. Schools can often be the first point of introduction between new Canadians and sport and recreation activities. The quality of that introduction is important in terms of generating interest, ongoing participation, quality instruction, and in enriching enjoyment. It is important to not only encourage more new Canadian participation in school sport but to increase school offering of school sport so youth who happen to be cut by a team still have a place to participate. 

Reimagining School Sport is a continuing project that aims to make participation in school sport a viable option for all students. If school is for all, school sport is for all (Säfvenbom, Geldhof & Hauge, 2014). In the 2018/2019 school year, Ph.D. student and middle school teacher Jonathan Mauro began working to develop a new school sport framework. Ever Active Schools and the University of Alberta are supporting the project by facilitating workshops with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools.

Through a pilot program in September 2019, both the Red Deer and Edmonton Catholic school districts plan to have developed a school sport framework that increases access for students who want to play on school sports teams. This new framework will encourage an increased number of student participants; professional development for coaches to be able to provide a better program; improved facilities, whether within the school or partnering with recreation facilities; and lowered costs to reduce financial barriers.

To build on the pilot program, with funding from Sport Canada, Ever Active Schools and the University of Alberta worked with 5 Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools to increase new Canadian youth participation in school sport. Red Deer Catholic Schools took a leadership role at all levels of their organization to support this initiative. From the Board of trustees down to committed teachers, the school jurisdiction was an ideal environment to run this pilot project. 

We believe that redesigning school sport for inclusivity and improved participation would increase, not only the number of new Canadian youth but any youth who wishes to participate, as well as enhance the quality of their sport experience within a welcoming and healthy school sport environment.  Further (and most importantly) we have found that when a child or youth is involved in school sport they have increased school connectedness, improved academic success, and personal wellbeing through school sport opportunities. 

Though the COVID-19 pandemic brought on challenges for this project we were still able to come up with 3 recommendations for schools to increase new Canadian youth participation in school sport:

  1. Develop School Sport For All Programs for New Canadians through a Comprehensive School Health Approach.  
  2. New Canadian Students are Change Agents within their school communities.  Engage students in a school sport for all models and have them voice their thoughts, enthusiasm and leadership.  
  3. Support teachers and coaches with time (sub release time), training opportunities and thank you’s.  No school sports program exists without the extra time that teachers/coaches put into the model. Even in a very unpredictable and challenging year, teachers still wanted to give as they saw the benefits of having students engaged in sport. 

Podclass Miniseries:

In an effort to increase new Canadian parent's understanding of the holistic benefits of school sport, a 3 episode podcast miniseries was created. Check the series out below! Great for parents, teachers, coaches and anyone interested in the lived experiences of school sport of new Canadian and Indigenous families.

“We know that there are many benefits, from physical to social and emotional, to life skills, from participation in school sport. The uniqueness of school sport is that  it reaches almost every single child. So if we’re able to use it to have these positive impacts on children, that is what we’re trying to aim for.”

- Jonathan Mauro, Teacher, St. Francis of Assisi Middle School 

“In an ideal world, we’d be able to offer a team or school sport program for every student who wants to participate and be on a team. That program would be able to still develop the skills of all of those kids, and yet offer competitive sport for those students who want to go that route… It wouldn’t hinder the ability for the other students to participate in sports as well. Whether that’s an intramural type program or a jamboree type of league where kids are showing up and still getting the same practice and skill development from qualified coaching but playing in just tournament type of play, and still offering that competitive side for the higher end athletes.”

- Gary Gylander, Principal, St. Francis of Assisi Middle School

“The successes that we’ve seen in our school has been amazing. It gives students an opportunity to have somewhere to go after school. The amount of values and characteristics that they get through school sport has helped our kids out so much. We’ve seen so much more respect and kindness toward each other. They’re getting those values of respect, commitment, trust, all that kind of stuff.”

- Kelsey Heatherington, Physical Education Teacher, St. Gregory the Great Catholic School

 

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Canada

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