Kelly Graham is the Physical Literacy Coordinator at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

Physical Literacy blooms in Saanich

On Tuesday morning Tillicum Elementary will launch its newest physical literacy initiative called fit and fuel.

On Tuesday morning Tillicum elementary will launch its newest physical literacy initiative called fit and fuel.

The program works in part with the Tillicum’s hot breakfast plan, adding a 30 minute unit of sports and exercise before school starts. It’s the fifth physical literacy class in Tillicum’s schedule, as there are currently four after school classes, Monday-Thursday for two hours each.

“This is our fourth year running physical literacy programs and we’ve seen way more engagement from our students since the first year,” says principal Lori Burley of Tillicum elementary. “It’s at the point now where we have waiting lists for our programs, with 20 to 25 kids in each of the four after school classes.”

Burley’s seen a huge spinoff effect from the physical literacy classes.

“Numbers are up in other programs, such as basketball and cross country running, and of course there’s better all-around sportsmanship and confidence with a lot of the kids. We don’t see such acting out, and kids understand the concept of games, and learn how to play competitively and non-competitively.”

Kelly Graham was just a student when she started with the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence.

The PISE building was still in its planning stages, and Graham had yet to finish her bachelor of sport and fitness leadership degree at Camosun College.

The Lambrick Park secondary grad has seen PISE come to fruition as a one-stop-shop for high performance sports science, sports and injury recovery, and a place for everything and anything that can enhance training. In 2011 Graham joined the physical literacy program and last year she took on the full time program coordinator role.

“When PISE was in its planning stages we didn’t know physical literacy would be what it is, and it’s become a vehicle for PISE’s community presence,” Graham said.

PISE originally launched the ABCs of physical literacy as an outreach program in places such as the Cridge Centre for the Family, Craigflower and Tillicum elementary schools.

Since then, the budget has blown up with multiple grants coming in, though many go through the 12 schools who’ve partnered with PISE.

With Tillicum’s fit and fuel, which is still in the pilot stage, Graham is now overseeing 41 classes per week in the region.

Most classes are free to students though PISE’s physical literacy programs are now in community recreation centres. They offer classes at Burnside Gorge Community Centre, Panorama, Gordon Head Recreation Centre, and Saanich Commonwealth Place.

“We’re looking to keep growing, developing and adding programs, and enjoy working in partnership with the recreation centres,” Graham said.

In addition, Graham works with two full-time programmers, who also teach, as well as 21 part-time physical literacy leaders.

The community recreation centres run PISE’s mini-movers class for ages 18 months to three years, the active start for ages three to four and active play classes for ages five to seven, Graham said.

“There’s also the family fitness class at Burnside Gorge Community Centre, in which parents and children warmup together and then separate into respective groups. The latter creates a visible model for the kids, as they play games while watching their parents work through a bootcamp fitness session. They always end with a big group game to finish the session.”

Did you know?

PISE’s physical literacy’s budget is $250,000 and growing.

– Funding comes from the province through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Victoria Foundation, KidSport, Saanich Parks & Recreation, Aboriginal Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity Partners Council, Island Savings, ProMOTION Plus and RBC.

PISE’s physical literacy has 41 classes per week around the region, including Saanich schools Tillicum and Rogers schools.

Kelly Graham is partnering with the Canucks Autism Network to develop a physical literacy program for people with autism.

reporter@saanichnews.com