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Special to the Progress
In three years of visiting Antigua with the Champions for Health Promoting Schools program, UFV student Leticia Frederickson has seen a change in both the young students on the island and herself.
The Chilliwack resident is currently in the Caribbean with a group of kinesiology students for the month of May. There, the group of 18 is teaching life skills through classroom lessons and outdoor physical activities.
Since first taking part in the program, Frederickson has watched the young children retain the information they've been taught — from giving the teachers high fives to providing them with their personal space.
"Overall you can see some students being better citizens in their community which is very exciting," said Frederickson, who is graduating from the general studies program this summer, and will be entering UFV's Teacher Education Program.
Not only has she seen the children grow and mature, but she's noticed a change in herself since first visiting Antigua.
The first year, Frederickson took part in the Champions for Health program as a student. For the past two years, she has returned as a teacher's assistant to work with kinesiology instructor Joanna Sheppard, the creator of Champions for Health.
"The first year was a big decision to come because it was pushing me out of my comfort zone," said Frederickson. "And the second year I grew as a person because I was more invested in my role. I got to know everybody and their teaching styles, and learned through them as partners in the program."
Now, in her third year, Frederickson has experienced new developments.
"It has reinforced the passion that I have to learn from and work with children," she said. “I’ve always known I wanted to teach, but this has given me the confidence I needed.”
Being thrown into a new environment is a swift learning curve for the UFV students. While on the island, they are paired into teams of two and assigned their own schools where they teach four 45-minute classes a day.
On Fridays, the group hosts an event called the Unity Games, which is similar to a Canadian sports day. The UFV students set up stations that promote different life skills, such as team work and listening. With one event in the morning and another in the afternoon, the UFV students work with more than 1,800 Antiguan students during their trip.
"The experience gives you that extra boost you need to prove that you can do it — because you're put in situations you don't think you can thrive in," said Frederickson. "This program challenges you in different ways — as a person, teammate and a teacher. I think that's one of the most rewarding aspects."