Hits the Mark
"I feel like Michael Jordan,
and Im a girl."
"Finally, Im not competing against
everybody else and ending up last."
Students in Activ8 are getting
more physically active and loving it.
By Kate Sharpe
Todays children are at
risk. According to the Canadian Medical Association, in the past 15 years
obesity has grown by more than 50 per cent in
children aged six to 11 and by 40 per cent in
those aged 12 to 17. Research also indicates that
40 per cent of children aged five to eight are
Sedentary living is
a major cause of this problem.
Learning time in the
classroom is a valuable commodity. However, the
students health carries an even greater
value and is a critical link to the learning
An effective program
for physical activity must have four critical
qualities. It must be easy to do, be
cross-referenced with provincial standards in
physical and health education, have the ability
to challenge all students - from the least to
most active, and it cannot be expensive.
Last year I tested Activ8, a program developed by The
Foundation for Active Healthy Kids in association
with the Ontario Physical and Health
Education Association (OPHEA).
Activ8 fits on all
counts. I had found what I was looking for, and
the students loved it.
The Activ8 program
rewards students for completing eight physical
activity challenges specifically designed for
their grade and activity level. The challenges
are fun as well as developmentally appropriate.
Its available for JK to Grade 12.
The emphasis is on
everybody winning and on personal development
not on performance testing. The challenges
are designed so that all students have an equal
opportunity to experience success. For example,
students will be able to achieve the highest
recognition level in jumping by performing an
age-specific jumping action with the proper
technique. They will not be judged on how high or
how far they can jump.
As one student says,
"Im not competing against everybody
When the students
complete the challenges for their grade, they
receive a special recognition badge.
activates a particular component of physical
In the earlier
grades, emphasis is on developing basic motor
skills such as jumping, throwing and catching. As
students get older, greater emphasis is placed on
fitness attributes such as cardiovascular
endurance, strength and agility.
Adaptations to each
challenge are provided to meet the abilities of
less active through to more active students.
Students are encouraged to adapt the challenges
to meet their developmental needs.
Steven Danish, a
psychologist at Virginia Commonwealth University,
defines fun as a quest for the balance between
skill and challenge. If the Activ8 challenges in
the earlier grades focus largely on skill
development and enhancing perceived competency,
children will be more likely to become physically
active and continue participating in physical
activities in the higher grades.
Activ8 is very user
friendly. It is flexible enough to match
individual teaching needs and can accommodate
restrictions in space and time.
school receives a teacher-friendly resource
curriculum for each grade level. This easy-to-use
resource provides activities to help students
prepare for their eight challenges. For instance,
diagrams of the proper form required for certain
skills show clearly how each challenge should be
performed. This enables any teacher to teach the
program with confidence and provides them with
standards to refer to when assessing the
a solid educational dimension. The eight physical
activity challenges at each grade level are
closely cross-referenced to Healthy Active Living
Standards for Physical and Health Education in
Ontario, Grades 19. This document,
developed by OPHEA, was distributed to every
school in the province in February 1997.
challenges will make it much easier for teachers
to realize these standards with their students.
Its a solid
program that has helped motivate my students, and
it reverses a dangerous trend towards physical
Activ8 culminates at
participating schools in a fun-filled event that
celebrates everbodys achievement. The event
provides teachers with imaginative opportunities
to involve parents, guardians, business leaders
and other community members. The event is a great
place to give students their recognition badges
for completing their challenges.
capitalize on Activ8 by turning it into a
fundraising opportunity. Students can secure
modest pledges for each of the challenges they
A local sponsorship
drive could be an excellent way to heighten
awareness of Activ8 and its purposes among
students, parents, guardians and the wider
community. In fact, such a drive could even
generate imaginative ways for parents and other
adults to join the kids in physical activity.
Unlike most other
school-based fundraisers, half of the funds
raised will remain with the local school. In
addition, students receive cool incentives for
raising money, at no cost to the school.
The most surprising
feature of Activ8 is that everything is free.
There is no cost for the curriculum-based
modules, recognition badges, or even the
fundraising incentives for students.
The Royal Bank Financial Group is the title sponsor for
Activ8. They understand the importance of
developing positive lifestyles for long-term
benefits and are committed to promoting the
importance of physical as well as fiscal health.
include YTV, Raptors Foundation, Nike PLAY Canada, Trillium Foundation, Gatorade and the Government of Ontario.
Activ8 is now a
critical component in my physical education
From a pedagogical
perspective, Im reassured that the
organization that created Activ8 also developed
provincial standards for physical and health
education in Ontario.
From a personal
perspective, I want us to remember the physical
condition of our students amidst our efforts to
improve the educational process. Activ8 does just
Call the Foundation
for Active Healthy Kids/OPHEA at (416) 426-7120
to register for the Activ8 program, or visit the
Royal Bank Activ8 web site at www.royalbank.activ8.org
Physical and Health Education Association (OPHEA)
is a not-for-profit organization that exists to
positively influence the lifestyles of
Ontarios children and youth through the
provision of quality leadership, advocacy and
resources in the area of physical and health
More than 90 per
cent of OPHEA members are elementary and
secondary teachers. For an annual fee of $45,
members get the OPHEA Journal and newsletter,
access to resources and member rates for OPHEA
Kate Sharpe has
been a teacher with the East York Board of
Education for seven years. She has taught a
variety of grades in the elementary panel. She is
currently teaching physical education in French
and English to students in senior kindergarten
through to Grade 5 at R.H. McGregor Elementary