Not Clowning Around

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Image of group of people, three suspended by ropes.

What started in 2014 as an applied research project for College of the Rockies Kinesiology and University of Victoria/East Kootenay Teacher Education students, the College’s Physical Literacy project continues to grow.

The project has thus far received three grants – one from ViaSport and two from RBC Learn to Play – which have enabled it to keep expanding.  Phase 1 began as a lunch-time games program at one elementary school while Phase 2 saw the program expand to include four additional schools in Cranbrook and 12 schools in four additional BC cities (Fort St. John, Kamloops, Kelowna and Victoria).

Phase 3 of the program expanded to seven Cranbrook elementary schools and focused on inclusion of those with disabilities. This phase also introduced Aboriginal Sport for Life at the Aqamnik School and ran a pilot project with multisport offerings in an after-school program at Laurie Middle School. All phases have been recognized at provincial, national and even international levels. Yay team!

The latest phase of the project is possibly the most exciting yet.  The Kinesiology faculty has teamed up with the University of Manitoba and the world renowned Ecole Nationale du Cirque (National Circus School) who provides training for none other than the amazing Cirque du Soleil performers.  Wow!

In partnership with Laurie Middle School, two instructors and one student from the College of the Rockies/UVic Teacher Education program and four teachers from Laurie trained with Ecole Nationale du Cirque in circus arts. The face-to-face component of the training took place in Cranbrook from August 26 to September 1. Those trained will, in turn, be able to incorporate circus arts into the BC New Physical and Health Education curriculum as well as other curricula at Laurie for 12-13 year olds.

College instructor and Physical Literacy project researcher, Sandi Lavery explains, “With youth aged 12 to 13, activity levels often drop off and, as a result, we see mental health issues begin to increase. Finding new and innovative ways to increase activity in youth not only helps their physical literacy but can help them deal with the difficult transition to adolescence as well.”

Lavery will work with fellow instructor and Physical Literacy project researcher, Jodie Pickering to assess the students at Laurie as well as a control group of students from Jaffray Junior Secondary and Fernie Secondary schools at the beginning of the school year. They will follow up with another assessment toward the end of the year, once the circus arts have been incorporated into the Laurie School curriculum. If this pilot study proves as effective as they anticipate it will be, they will then look at implementing the training more extensively.

“Our Kinesiology and Teacher Education students at the College will assist in assessments and training in the schools, which not only benefits the students at Laurie – improving physical, cognitive and affective learning, but also provides a tremendous learning opportunity for our College students as well,” Sandi adds.

What a cool and innovative way of incorporating these vital skills into school curriculum.