Beanbags, Frisbees, and skipping ropes will be the building blocks for teaching life skills at this Friday’s Unity Games in Antigua.
For the month of May, a group of UFV students are in the Caribbean working with young kids in both the classroom and outdoors. It’s part of a program called Champions for Health Promoting Schools, created by UFV kinesiology instructor Joanna Sheppard.
The Unity Games is comparable to a Canadian sports day event.
Not only does it promote physical activity, but it also focuses on skills like teamwork, problem-solving and decision-making.
The UFV group will work with more than 1,800 kids, as the Unity Games is held each Friday during separate morning and afternoon sessions.
Donations of equipment from the local university communities will help the students run their six stations.
At the end of each activity, the UFV students will hold something called “CCR: Check, connect and reflect.”
In preparation for the Unity Games, the UFV students did a run-through of the event on the front lawn of their hotel, the Anchorage Inn.
The stations were each tested, with students providing each other with feedback, suggestions and modifications for their games — from shortening the introduction to keep a child’s attention, to having a back-up plan if it were to rain.
Agassiz resident Amber Major was working with her partners, Graeme Dick of Abbotsford and Lacey Christink of Aldergrove, on the game "Crossing the Volcano."
“The children take pieces of equipment from the start to the finish line to cross the hot lava,” Major said. “And they have to do this without touching the lava, and using the equipment to walk and step in groups.”
The teams each receive two Frisbees, a skipping rope, and two bean bags which they’ll have to use to cross the lava.
Teamwork is the focus of the exercise.
“As they’re crossing, we notice that children are grasping on to each other, preventing each other from touching the lava because if they touch the lava, they have to start again,” said Major.
At the end of the activity, they ask the children how teamwork was used in the game, and continue to expand on that topic.
“So, we ask, 'Do you use teamwork at school?' We get the children to elaborate on that as well. And then go even further and ask, 'Where do we see teamwork?' In the cricket they play here, or basketball or soccer? And other aspects of their life,” said Major. “It’s a fundamental skill and it’s important that we emphasize this life skill in our activity.”
The first Unity Games is taking place this Friday, May 11.
Watch abbynews.com for more stories on the Antigua trip as they develop.