UFV students Amber (left) and Dana are among 18 undergraduate kinesiology and physical education students currently in Antiqua as part of the Champions for Health Promoting Schools initiative. The students will be on the Caribbean Island for four weeks.

UFV students teach life skills in Antigua

Teaching life skills through physical and health education is the goal of a group of UFV students currently working in Antigua.

In the classroom and on the field, UFV students are working in the Caribbean for the month of May

Teaching life skills through physical and health education is the goal of a group of UFV students currently working in Antigua.

Throughout the month of May, 18 undergraduate students will be volunteering side-by-side with local educators on the Caribbean island to promote physical and health education in innovative and effective ways through the Champions for Health Promoting Schools program.

Consisting of mostly kinesiology and physical education students, the group is being led by kinesiology instructor Joanna Sheppard, along with a research assistant and teaching  assistant.

Students will be divided into pairs, between six schools, where they will teach for the trip’s entirety. They will be teaching four, 45-minute lessons a day, integrating reading, music, drama, storytelling, art skills, health promotion, critical thinking and goal setting into their lessons.

The university is not relying on the limited supplies on the island, but rather brought its own – including chalk, paper, pens, crayons, and stickers for in the classroom.

“For the program to be sustainable, we need to bring all of our own resources because we don’t want to be a burden on their resources in Antigua,” said Sheppard.

The undergraduates will also be working outdoors with local students, engaging in sporting activities that will incorporate important life skills with each lesson.

“Not only are we getting them physically active, but we’re also doing cognitively effective activities to help them make good life choices,” said Sheppard.

The UFV groups brought soccer balls and basketballs to contribute to the most popular sporting activities on the island. As well, they will be introducing volleyball to the island, thanks to a donation of balls and a net from the UFV athletics department.

Several other items, including sporting jerseys, were sourced by UFV students who collected them from their communities, old schools and community centres.

Each week on the island, the UFV group will be hosting an event called Unity Games, which combines both physical activities and life skills.

Unity Games is similar to sports days held in Canada, said Nicole Parke, this year’s Unity Games co-ordinator.

Taking place each Friday, it will feature a series of stations that allow the kids to work with their peers to build on different life skills — from decision-making to teamwork.

“We simply run through an activity and then ask how the students felt through the decision-making process,” said Parke. “After they complete the task, we bring them together and go over what they did. We’ll ask them what they learned, and how can they apply that to real life.”

While the program is helping teach important skills to the students in Antigua, it’s also extremely beneficial to the UFV group.

Not only does it help them decide if they want to pursue health education, but it also provides them with perspective.

“It helps show them that our community is a world — there’s more out there than … the Fraser Valley,” said Sheppard. “It opens their mind to the fact that teachers are universal. We all have the same love and passion for teaching children, whether it’s in Antigua or Abbotsford.”

For more information, visit the website www.ufvchampions10.wordpress.com

As well, regular updates will be posted on theprogress.com the Lifestyles section.