Champions for Health honoured in Antigua

Minister of Education Jacqui Quinn-Leandro supports the program involving UFV kinesiology students.

Antigua's minister of education Jacqui Quinn-Leandro with UFV student Ashley Maynes.

Antigua's minister of education Jacqui Quinn-Leandro with UFV student Ashley Maynes.

The Champions for Health Promoting Schools program was honoured by the minister of education this week in Antigua.

Kinesiology instructor Joanna Sheppard and student Ashley Maynes visited the office of minister Jacqui Quinn-Leandro on Wednesday morning.

The pair were invited to speak about the Champions for Health program, which was created by Sheppard.

In its seventh year, the program sees Canadian students volunteer on the island for the month of May, working with young kids in both the classroom and outdoors. The goal is teaching life skills, such as teamwork, decision-making, and listening.

Quinn-Leandro is very supportive of the program, and shared with Sheppard and Maynes that she is excited to have the UFV students working alongside the Antiguan teachers.

“As long as I stay in office, your students will always be welcomed here on the island,” said Quinn-Leandro.

The minister also discussed how wonderful it is to have this collaboration between Canada and Antigua, adding that it complements the Child Friendly Schools Initiative program that is currently launching on the island through the United Nations.

“Jackie has seen us in action, and told us that it brings a smile to her face to know that we’re working so hard,” said Sheppard after the meeting. “It’s exciting to know how much of an impact the students of UFV have had on the island of Antigua.”

During their 15-minute meeting, they talked about what the UFV students have been doing on the island for the past two weeks – such as hosting their first Unity Games. The event is similar to a Canadian sports day and teaches children life skills through different activities.

“It’s been so nice working with such passionate students, and having such in-depth answers to our life skills questioning,” said Maynes about her experience working in the schools.

In their conversation, they also discussed the possibilities of Sheppard and her program working with the ministry in the field of research and evaluation.

Overall, the experience was a rewarding one.

“It’s excellent to have such a strong role model and leader in another country that is providing strong support for our program – a program that can be happening world-wide,” said Sheppard. “And it’s great to know that educators are educators all around the world, and simply want what’s best for their children.”

In acknowledgement of the Champions for Health program, Quinn-Leandro will present all of this year’s students with a certificate of appreciation at the end of their trip.