Written by: Megan Jones, School Health Facilitator, Ever Active Schools
I recently had the opportunity to spend five months at Kitaskinaw School, in Enoch, and felt lucky to have so much time to connect with the staff and students. A grant with Sport for Life initially brought me to the school and it gave me the opportunity to work alongside a staff who truly care about the well-being of their students. I also had the privilege to work with Tammy Pierson and Miranda Arcand in the gymnasium, who operate as a team with years of experience together.
Tammy and Miranda have passion and a wealth of knowledge for teaching traditional games. They gather the resources and materials and build all the equipment used for each game. Willow, dogwood, hides, horse hair, beads, sinew, stones, and antlers made up the bins of games they introduce to the classes. It’s amazing to see how well the students treat the games, knowing how many hours have gone into collecting wood, whittling the ends of each stick, cutting and drilling holes through antlers, wrapping sinew around young willow branches and sewing thick hide for games like double ball.
The students listened intently to Tammy as she introduced each traditional game to the class. These activities challenged their coordination, strength, agility and luck. The students were engaged in each activity, demonstrated resilience and were often overheard saying, “Let’s try that again.” I thought I would share one of the easier games here, called “Run and Scream” in this blog. All students lined up alongside one another, took in a big breath of air, start running, and at the same time screamed out loud. When their screams could no longer be heard, they stopped (or dropped a stick/ marker). Then we looked around to see who had run the furthest on one breath of air. In many of the games the students were active, demonstrated cooperation and friendly competition and most importantly, had lots of fun!
Later in June, Kitaskinaw’s grade 6 students will be travelling to Spruce Grove to teach many of the Traditional games to Brookwood School’s grade two students. This year marks the third year that six classes of grade 2 students from Parkland School Division will be led through the traditional games by Kitaskinaw’s grade 6 students. This program gives both schools the opportunity to share, learn and experience the many lessons that the games aim to teach. The two communities are also engaging in student mentorship, which can be very beneficial to all students involved.
If you are interested in learning about some of the games we played, Be Fit for Life has an excellent, free resource called Move and Play Through Traditional Games. It can be found here: Move and Play Through Traditional Games Resource