Since 1967, the Canada Games have served as a stepping stone for our nation's next generation of national, international, and Olympic champions.
The Games have continually produced high-profile athlete alumni and played a crucial role in many famous athletes’ careers including Sidney Crosby, Catriona Le May Doan, Eugenie Bouchard, Steve Nash and so many more. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Canada Games and the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, the Canada Games Activity Challenge (CGAC) was created.
Capitalizing on this milestone and event for the Games and Canada is not the fundamental reason this challenge was created. Through physical literacy and sport, young people are able to develop fundamental skills that are necessary for a healthy life. They also develop key values like, honesty, teamwork, fair play, following rules and guidelines, and respect for themselves and others. This is a key component that has been missing out of children’s daily routines. With iPad’s and television providers like Netflix on the rise, kids are glued to the couch, and without realizing they are beginning a sedentary lifestyle. The loss of physical development has many negative long term effects that the CGAC wants to change. Increasing physical activity in the classrooms and at home can greatly impact education and will build healthy activity habits beyond the schoolyard. It will enhance and improve every child’s full potential, allowing them to further reach their goals in adulthood.
“Children require basic activity to build physical literacy skills that will allow them to keep physical activity and sport in their lives for life,” says Canada Games Council Chairman, Tom Quinn. “As a key event and milestone for many of our next generation national, international and Olympic champions, the Canada Games property wants to use our unique positioning in Canada to promote and increase the pool of children who see sport as an opportunity for them and applaud all young athletes who progress to dream of one day making a Canada Games team.”
To this extent, the Canada Games, the Olympics, the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and every other professional sports organization, would not be where they are today without these exceptional athletes. Physical literacy requires practice, and these athletes gained their success through their devotion to develop these fundamental movement skills, and become involved with sports at a young age. The Activity Challenge encourages young kids to participate in an active lifestyle and utilize the skills necessary to become our next generation’s future athletes.
“This challenge first introduces our young students to activities that involve the fundamental movement skills; these skills are the foundation needed for children to become physically literate and be successful in the sport or physical activities they choose,” explained Program Director of School Sport NL, Trisha Boyer. “I hope it inspires our students to try a new sport and to take an interest in our Canada Games and become inspired to represent their province.“
The CGAC officially launched in schools on February 13, 2017 – meaning all activities became available on the registered class participant’s online applications. This application provides a large list of fun and engaging activities for teachers and parents to do with their kids. Once an activity is completed, the students accumulate points on their profiles. The more activities they complete, the more points they receive.
The application is made up of four components: Activities, Sessions, Modules, and Rewards. Activities will let students practice fundamental movements and skills, that are skill and age appropriate based on Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. Each activity lasts between five to 20 minutes. Teachers and parents will have step-by-step instructions and videos to demonstrate how to complete each activity. Sessions are made up of activities, and are divided into three categories. Team Sessions are done at school and instructed by the teacher, Training Sessions are completed at home either by themselves or with their family, and Bonus Sessions are there for kids who want to earn more bonus points by practicing and completing the bonus activities.
Modules consist of 20-30 Team Sessions that are to be completed in 30 days. Module completion will be achieved if a minimum of 20 sessions are completed. From the February launch date, until June, there are three modules to finish. Lastly, rewards are given as Participation Points and Canada Games virtual coins, every time a session is completed.
“We heard about the CGAC from the Active for Life website as we are regular readers of the website. Our favourite part is that it is targeting teachers and their classrooms since we know that schools have a unique opportunity to support the health and well-being of children and youth as they spend most of their time in these settings. We love that the activities focus on building physical literacy skills because we know how vital they are to a child’s health, well-being and future!“ says Physical Activity Lead for the Health Promotion team in Brandon, MB, Nikki Dean.
The purpose of these activities are to get kids active while helping them learn about the importance of sport, physical literacy, fundamental movement skills, and the necessity for healthy active living. When kids are active, their bodies can do the things they want and need them to do because regular exercise provides an abundance of holistic health benefits including; strong muscles and bones, weight control, decreased risk of developing type two diabetes, better sleep, and a better outlook on life. This is what the Canada Games Activity Challenge hopes to accomplish with the program, while simultaneously motivating young people to take control of their life from an early age, and give them the skills and confidence to accomplish their goals.
Now, as a teacher or parent I`m sure you`re wondering – what`s the benefit of signing up for the Activity Challenge for me? While these activities are geared towards kids getting active, they also help teachers enhance their curriculum and get their students active in fun and creative ways. They do not in any way, shape or form, take away from the existing curriculum. At least 90 per cent of children do not get the recommended daily physical activity needed. With that to say, this program will help them learn and be active at the same time, creating students that are motivated, positive and excited to learn. This is extremely beneficial to both teachers and parents.
On top of that, all activities can be done with minimal equipment and can be adapted to any classroom or home environment. Parents and teachers do not have to purchase any extra equipment; everything about the program is completely accessible and free. Therefore, kids also don’t have to stay inside to complete activities.
“I think that this challenge will help kids to be successful in the future by allowing them to practice their fundamental movement skills in a safe and inclusive environment – all while having a blast with their peers,” Nikki commented. “Hopefully it will help to instill a love of movement and give them confidence in themselves and their abilities, as well as the motivation to try new physical activities. We also know that movement breaks in the classroom improve cognitive function so kids are better able to focus, retain information and problem-solve – which should in turn lead to better academic performance.”
The Activity Challenge would not be possible without its support from provincial and national physical education, sport, and government partners, Sport Canada, Olympian Jenn Heil and Paralympian Bo Hedges who serve as Athlete Ambassadors. As well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has kindly offered his support, appreciation, and encouragement to all parents, teachers and kids registered to participate in the Canada Games Activity Challenge.
“Any initiative that makes parents more aware of their child’s activity level is a step in the right direction to have a healthier and active population,” Trisha Boyer said.
The CGAC has inspired many young kids to get active and incorporate physical activities into their daily routines. Participation in sports, physical activities, and recreation are essential for a child’s development in physical, social, and emotional health. These are significant areas that shape a young person to have a successful and happy life. The CGAC recognizes how important it is to become active when you’re young, and is motivated to assist young children to become successful adults by giving them these essential life skills. Perhaps they will become future participants in the Canada Games; the possibilities are endless with physical activity.