BY ESTHER YUEN
A team of professionals from Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), Renfrew Park Community Centre, Windermere Family of Schools, University of British Columbia (UBC) and Action Schools! BC is developing an Intercultural Physical Activity Guide, which aims to increase intercultural understanding using physical activity as a tool.
The activities in this guide will be pilot-tested through community organizations in Renfrew-Collingwood this fall, and provincial-wide promotions of the published guide is scheduled to begin next year. This guide is one of the several projects launched through Renfrew-Collingwood INTERactive, a community initiative that encourages local residents to connect with neighbours through physical activities.
At 43-pages, the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide is a launching pad for any group to explore interculturalism or physical activity. It’s geared toward individuals in leadership capacities, but the activities, though originally planned for school-aged children, can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age.
The guide includes over seven categories of activities ranging from handball to skipping and jumping, and within each category are often cultural variations of activities. In Target and Accuracy Games, for instance, there are games from Sierra Leone, First Nations groups (Sahtu and Chipewyan), Greece and Ethiopia. There’s even a category teaching readers how they or their participants can create their own activities. Each category has a series of intercultural discussion questions, activity co-creating suggestions and physical activity outcomes.
“We focused on the three themes: relationship building, learning from each other and sharing, and co-creating,” said Vive Wong, CNH’s prevention education coordinator, who also stressed that the games were not focused on competition, but fun-filled participant engagement.
Wong and UBC graduate student Donna Lee researched and drafted the document from February to September. Both women are experienced in planning activities and have studied with Dr. Wendy Frisby, a co-founder of RC INTERactive and former UBC School of Kinesiology professor. They gathered suggestions from RC INTERactive community partners and Dr. Frisby’s UBC undergraduate students, and evaluated resources from Action Schools! BC and the UBC Library, as well as materials provided by Michael McLenaghen, the director of community services at CNH.
“We had to research the history of the activity, consider how we were going to include physical literacy (or skills the activities develop), think of how can we use the activity to promote interculturalism, and how participants would interact with each other,” said Wong. “These couldn’t be activities you did yourself.”
The result blew the organizing committee away. “Most of the activities, I’ve never heard about.“ said Dr. Frisby. “Vive and Donna did a great job researching, [and] exploring possibilities.”
Gavin Clark, the community schools coordinator for the Windermere Family of Schools, is excited about the guide, too, saying, “It may prompt dialogue and hopefully, [prompt] people to develop new ways of thinking and being within an intercultural context.”
The idea for the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide came about during discussions between UBC kinesiology students and teachers and principals from the Windermere Family of Schools. The students discovered that the educators were enthusiastic about the idea of interculturalism, but neither have the time nor resources to effectively create and implement intercultural physical activities in classrooms.
Paula Carr, an RC INTERactive co-founder and intercultural specialist, and Nancy Reynolds, a facilitator for RC INTERactive, responded by gathering a team from RC INTERactive to develop a guide. Action Schools! BC was later brought on because of their extensive experience creating and distributing physical activity resources across elementary schools.
Now that the draft is completed, the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide moves toward the next phase: testing. Supported by a Healthy Living grant from Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, RC INTERactive will coordinate Train the Trainer workshops this fall and winter in the Renfrew-Collingwood area for recreation practitioners, teachers, student leaders, parents and any other interested individuals. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, contact Paula Carr at email@example.com. Once finalized, the guide will be available for free download from www.actionschoolsbc.ca and distributed to the roughly 1,600 elementary and middle schools in BC through Action Schools! BC workshops.
The Intercultural Physical Activity Guide is an example of how a project started in Renfrew-Collingwood can make a significant contribution to a wider community to further prevent social isolation and promote health. “This is a concrete tool for a variety of groups to use,” says Carr, who adds, “and we hope it will get people more active, aware of diversity and willing to ‘create something new with someone not like you.’ ”
Copyright (c) 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News