It’s not too often that people are thrilled to be bombarded with flying objects as they dart across a room seeking safety.
Students at Tillicum elementary, however, generally love getting together for an after school round of “asteroids,” a dodgeball-like game aimed at boosting physical literacy skills in its young participants.
“Basically, (physical literacy) is just having a good movement sense and knowing how to move at the appropriate time and in the appropriate environment, so regardless of the setting, you’re able to move appropriately and with poise,” said Andie Pask, physical literacy co-ordinator at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE), the developers of the program.
“If you’re at the beach you’re able to play Frisbee with your friends and if you need to balance on one foot and grab a jar from that top shelf, you can do that with confidence.”
Funding from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development made the program available to groups of about 20 Grade 1 to 4 students two afternoons per week since November.
Last month the district of Saanich came on board with funding up to $7,200 for two more days of the after-school program over 12 weeks at Tillicum.
Currently, about 60 different kids over the four days each week work on the basics of running, jumping, throwing, catching and kicking. These include plenty of students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to participate in recreation, due to financial or transportation barriers, said Lori Burley, principal of Tillicum elementary.
Burley has seen students gain confidence and increase participation during school activities, while parents have grown more involved and more interested in opportunities for their children.
The program also encompasses a nutritional and team-building element outside of the skill-building, “not just an after-school, kick the soccer ball around,” activity, Burley said.
“We’re realizing that there is a void and not all of the sports skills are being met,” Pask said.
“Kids need to learn these skills so that they have a fighting chance for the future, so that when they get to middle school they have the skills and the confidence to try out for different school teams.”