The College of the Rockies and the Southeast Kootenay School District are the recipients of $14,560 in funding from ViaSport, which will support an ongoing applied research project that is studying physical literacy.
In front of students and staff at Steeples Elementary School, officials praised the work put in by the elementary students, as well as the college students and faculty who are gathering the data for the research project.
The COTR students involved in the project are in kinesiology or the teacher education programs. Physical literacy refers to the mastering of fundamental movement skills such as running, skipping, hopping and galloping.
“This research project will provide evidence that through purposeful physical literacy programming by qualified instructors, kids will develop greater proficiency in movement and will be more likely to participate in sport and physical activity as they get older,” said Eric Sinker, the coaching and leadership development manager for ViaSport.
“ViaSport is very excited to participate with the College on this innovative initiative.”
The first part of the project involved gathering information in the fall of 2014 in two Cranbrook elementary schools and implementing a lunch-hour literacy intervention at one—Steeples Elementary School.
Between October and January, COTR students volunteered their time to implement a lunchtime program to improve fundamental motor skills and from January to April, honorariums were provided to student mentors through funding assistance from ViaSport.
The undertaking is the first applied research project at the College since it opened the Inspire Centre, which is designed to inspire innovation, research and excitement in teaching and learning.
“College of the Rockies wants to help our community partners solve real problems and advance innovation,” said Stan Chung, College of the Rockies Vice-President, Education. “We are delighted to participate in the area of physical literacy because this work truly transforms lives.”
Chung says students and faculty have been able to draw some interesting conclusions from the research.
“Our children are not performing to standard on physical literacy. Things like hopping, skipping, jumping—the basics of fundamental movement,” Chung said. “We need to do some more work with our children, they need to be more active.
“The other thing that we’re finding is, if you work with children you can really allow them to improve their physical literacy and that means healthier students, more active students, students who are better able to learn.”
Specifically, the ViaSport grant is going towards developing a lunch-hour Physical Literacy Kit that can be used to implement fun physical literacy intervention programs in local elementary schools. The goal is to expand it to more schools throughout the district in the future.
Sandi Lavery, the UVIC Teacher Education Program Coordinator, is the lead COTR faculty member with the project.
“Kids can move, get active, run around, get their heart rates up, but to actually move well—can they run well? Can they run with skill? Can they jump properly? Can they hop?” Lavery said.
“Those skills are being depleted because kids are not outside playing anymore. They’re with their video games, with their screen time.”
Steeples Elementary principal David Martin has been concerned about decreasing levels of fundamental movement skills since he started teaching physical education in 1995.
“Since the joint project between Steeples Elementary School and the College of the Rockies/UVIC Teacher Education began, we have noticed improved fundamental movement skills from our students,” Martin said. “Teachers have embraced the teaching of these skills and have reported being more focused in their delivery of physical education. Students appear to be more co-ordinated, better able to participate in physically demanding activities and are experience greater success when being physically active.”
The project will be applying for additional grant money to help enhance the equipment at additional local schools and to distribute the kits.