Jumpstart and Ever Active Schools: 2018 Year 1 Partnership Results

2018 marked the first year of a three-year partnership agreement between Jumpstart Charities and Ever Active Schools.

Through this partnership, we aim to advance our shared goal of realizing the social impacts of sport and play for canada's youth through quality sport and physical activity opportunities.

Schools are ideal places to deliver this kind of support because they can improve access to opportunities, particularly for young people who face more barriers to participation in community sport: students from families in financial need, girls and young women, persons with disabilities and Indigenous youth, among others.

By building the capacity of school communities and providing opportunities for all, this initiative has reached 35,413 youth in 130 school communities across Alberta.

There are more than 1,300 kms between the farthest north and south schools.

Three main programs were implemented, each with unique participants, activities and outcomes. These programs were selected to reach populations that have historically experienced barriers to accessing sport and physical activity in Canada: Physical Literacy in Residence, Sport as a Platform for Resilience in Indigenous Communities, and Miyomahchihowin (In Good Health).

Physical literacy in residence

Physical Literacy in Residence builds the capacity of teachers and school community staff to create physical literacy-rich and movement-positive environments in the classrooms, cultures and surrounding communities of schools by placing a physical literacy expert in the school as a mentor.

Program activities are tailored to local needs of the schools and include:

  • Ongoing professional learning;
  • Resource and equipment support;
  • Aid in building and strengthening community support networks;
  • Organizing school district knowledge-sharing events;
  • Opportunities for students to connect to sport and physical activity community programs; and
  • Follow-up consultations.

Evaluation of this initiative was completed by the University of Alberta and lead researcher Dr. John Spence. Results of the program were assessed through surveys and comparative statistical analysis from staff at participating schools (n=129) and control schools (n=90); as well as a thematic analysis of focus groups made up of principals (n=8), vice principals (n=4) and teachers (n=17).

Compared to control schools, staff in participating schools reported increased:

  • Comfort teaching physical education;
  • Comfort fostering physical literacy;
  • Familiarity with physical literacy resources;
  • Inclusion of physical literacy within curriculum and lesson plans;
  • Familiarity with community organizations that promote physical literacy; and
  • Confidence for engaging students in activities that foster physical literacy.

Interviews indicated that teacher confidence improved in the gym space and for incorporating movement into classrooms. As teachers became more practised with the activities, they were reportedly more comfortable integrating planned movement activities.

"They're doing purposeful activities now, not just running amok in a gym while throwing stuff around... I've seen a big improvement in terms of what they're doing... Teachers are letting their students move in the classroom and before, they weren't." - Vice Principal from a participating school

Thematic analysis of the interviews found the core factors for successful implementation were:

  • Improvements made to physical education programming;
  • Relevant and useful professional development;
  • Improved extracurricular movement culture;
  • Increased priority on health and wellness;
  • Benefit of community organization support; and
  • Importance of school district collaboration.

The contextual factors found to be necessary for the success of the project were time, funding, regular visits to the school, and continuity of the staff in the school.

"When my teachers told me [that I would be a leader on Sports Day], I felt excited and thought, 'I get to become a teacher already in grade 4?!' I felt special and lucky, because I was [one of] the first grade 4's who got to teach Sports Day to other kids." - Student leader at Saddle Ridge School in Calgary

"I would say that Ever Active [Schools] and Jumpstart showed my students that being active doesn't need to be elaborate, multi-rule games based on competition. As a class, we enjoyed being active all the time. We enjoyed simple games in not only the gymnasium, but also outside on the compound and even incorporated these simple games within the classroom through different subjects." - Inderpreet Cumo, Teacher, Saddle Ridge School in Calgary

What has worked?

  • Providing resources and training for teachers to build their knowledge, skills and attitudes to foster physical literacy;
  • Building awareness among school staff of the resources and community partners available to support a healthy physical literacy culture;
  • Engaging students through games and physically active play; and
  • Giving evidence to teachers about how to use movement activities to improve child behaviours and ultimately reduce their daily workload.

Looking towards the future, there are some changes we may make to the program based on the results of this evaluation:

  • Community supports for the schools may be more actively pursued, including affiliated groups such as the Be Fit for Life Network and Alberta Health Services, and local community organizations;
  • Lobbying school districts to support physical literacy for youth by funding meetings among school health champions will help build prolonged capacity for the initiative;
  • Having more visits per year, or increasing the number of follow-up visits and length of follow-up periods, to keep teacher engagement high; and
  • Consider offering consultations to improve the overall health culture of the school, as this may increase fidelity to the physical literacy residence and foster meaningful change in how youth engage with their physical literacy journeys.
Physical literacy in residence: in practice

Schools involved in the program will often focus on a theme for their mentorship that aligns with their local interests, needs and priorities. In 2018, five schools approached their mentorship with a focus on Loose Parts Play: a simple, low-cost approach to play that provides endless opportunities for children to use their imaginations, problem solve and play collaboratively, while developing the motivation, confidence and physical competence to value and enjoy movement. This approach runs counter to the way most schools are set up to facilitate instruction across curricula, or non-instructional times such as recess. Mentorship in these schools therefore focuses on professional learning, equipment management, and experiential learning for students.

Loose Parts are cheap or no-cost recycled items that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways.
“This stuff is so cool. I love Loose Parts! I get to play and use my imagination. I love building and playing pretend with my friends.” Elijah, Grade 2

In nine schools, we facilitated a partnership between the school library and a local community recreation centre as a strategy to make participation in sport and physical activity outside of school more accessible for students and their families. Annual family memberships were purchased and placed in the school library for families to check out as they would a book.

“Our Corinthia families are absolutely LOVING the passes. We have a great sign-out system set-up (cards in a pouch with a little scribbler to record your fun events), and our list of people who would like it extends all the way in to next December! It is a bit time consuming to organize from our end- but well worth the end result! Thank you.” - Shelly McCubbing, Principal, Ecole Corinthia Park School

“We loved it. My son literally cried when we had to return it. Not only did it afford us family fun outside the house it allowed us to try new things. My son is now enrolled in rock climbing.” - Parent

“My children love swimming and it is an activity that I enjoy doing with them. We don’t always have the extra money to spend on it and the family pass was a wonderful opportunity for us to get to the pool and have some fun. We look forward to signing it out again and getting a chance to use the pool again and possibly try out another activity.” - Parent

sport as a platform for resilience in indigenous communities

Sport as a Platform for Resilience in Indigenous Communities recognizes that sport is a powerful mechanism for social impact, community engagement, cultural pride and self worth.

Building upon a rich history of sport, traditional games and physical activity in Treaty areas 6, 7 and 8, this project aims to reduce barriers and improve access to opportunities within communities and regions while strengthening a coordinated system of support for Indigenous youth at the provincial and national levels.

In 2018 we supported 48 schools in 32 Indigenous communities to increase opportunities for sport and physical activity.

To support the outcome of reducing barriers and improving access within Indigenous communities, 57 people received coach training certifications. 17 were high school students, who began helping their teachers coach younger students in basketball. Teachers, parents and high school students were trained as basketball, soccer and volleyball coaches in all three treaty areas in Alberta (Treaty 6, Treaty 7 and Treaty 8).

Photo: Basketball coach training at Red Earth Creek with Peerless Lake, Atikameg and Cadotte Lake students

How has Jumpstart helped you reach your full potential? How did you feel about the program?

“It will help me in the future in becoming a leader in my community. I felt more confident after, I feel like I was able to help the kids more and that I am able to actually teach them skills. It’s rare to have these opportunities in our communities. I feel like it allows us to build our resumes and will give us more opportunities to give back to our community in the future, which I am thankful for.” - Hannah Houle on NCCP Basketball course

Communities consistently identify the need for healthy Indigenous role models for students to look up to. Connecting students with leaders just a few years older than them who have been successful in post secondary education, athletics, or other goals can help students feel like their own goals are more achievable and map a personal road to success.

AMA Youth Run Club Ambassador and World Indigenous Games gold medalist runner Rilee Manybears traveled from Siksika Nation to visit Peerless Lake School on Feb 6, 2018. Rilee showed staff and students his episode of the "Failure Way" video series, which tells his inspiring story of overcoming obstacles, working hard and achieving goals. Rilee joined students in their physical education classes, as well as the Peerless Lake Predators Run Club after-school to compete in obstacle races, outdoor runs and other games. Prior to Rilee’s visit, a Grade 9 student didn't attend school for more than one month. The day that Rilee came and delivered his messages of hope and encouragement, this student not only came to school, but arrived on time, and continued to come to school on time in the following days after the visit.

Traditional games like double ball (left) teach fundamental movement skills that build competence and confidence similar to sports like hockey (right).

Small amounts of seed funding, targeting specific needs to reduce barriers to sport and improve engagement and attendance, can have transformational change for a school community, as outlined in this letter from a partner principal.

To advance the system of Indigenous sport and recreation across the province and nationally, 19 schools were supported to attend gatherings focused on wellness and resilience. They had opportunities to share their successes and learn how to overcome challenges from others. These events facilitated an average of 8 partnerships for each attendee to support their efforts in creating healthy, active school communities.

Students play Double Ball at the Resiliency Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta in November 2017.

How has Jumpstart helped you reach your full potential? How did you feel about the program?

"Coming from a small reserve and not having a whole lot of opportunities, to go on trips like these are a blessing. If there was one thing I could take from this, it would be that going from nothing to something isn't hard to achieve. You just have to put in the time, effort and work." - Anthony Grey, grade 10 student

This program supports 11 First Nations schools to participate in the Treaty 6 Athletics Network, a group of athletics directors, physical education teachers and school coaches. This network convenes to organize sport competition and play opportunities between their schools’ teams in cross country running, volleyball, floor hockey, basketball, badminton, slo-pitch, kickball, gym ringette and track and field for students in Grades 5 to 12.

By creating friendly competition opportunities for schools to compete without extra pressure, a life-long love of sport is nurtured and pro-social behaviours increase.

It is crucial to providing sport opportunities for schools that don’t have the population to support competing in larger leagues, or where transportation, financial barriers or previous experiences of racism in sport deter students from participating.

Photo: Coaches from 9 communities get trained in volleyball coach strategies for both league play and physical education classes at school.

“I can say that this was the most valuable training I think we have had provided for us since I have been working at Treaty 6. There were a lot of tangible drills and focuses I was able to apply to my coaching and in my classroom.” - Kyle Loggie, Alexis First Nation teacher/coach, after attending volleyball training

Ever Active Schools also convenes a meeting of 23 organizations who partner with First Nations School Authorities through the Indigenous Youth Wellness Collaborative. Members include Sport for Life, Spirit North, Alberta Indigenous Games, Indigenous Sport Council of Alberta and Alberta Sport Connection. The Indigenous Youth Wellness Collaborative fosters relationships between these different organizations, allowing lessons to be shared across the province and highlighting the innovation, creativity and new resources developed by the communities and their partners.

Photo: 240 participants from 11 Indigenous communities attended the second annual Indigenous Track and Field Meet in Leduc, Alberta.

We leveraged $142,000 of federal funds in partnership with the Coaching Association of Canada and the Aboriginal Sport Circle into Alberta to train an additional 108 coaches, including 34 high school students in:

  • Basketball;
  • Cross-country Skiing;
  • Soccer Fundamentals;
  • Aboriginal Coaching Module;
  • Fundamental Movement Skills;
  • NCCP Volleyball;
  • Baseball; and
  • Making Ethical Decisions.

In total, 181 NCCP Coaching Certifications were earned through coach training opportunities. 110 students, teachers, coaches and community leaders were assisted in attending provincial training opportunities, national gatherings and other wellness-promotion opportunities.

Looking ahead to the coming year, we aim to:

  • Continue support for existing programs and expand services to reach more communities in the far Northern part of Alberta;
  • Focus on more cross-region sport gatherings and strengthen the national pathways for Indigenous youth athletes to participate; and
  • Grow our understanding of the social impacts of the program by monitoring changes in school attendance and office referrals (for behaviour concerns) in communities where the relationships are deep enough to enable it.

Miyomahchihowin, meaning “in good health” in Cree, is a program that engages Indigenous youth in the development of skills and achievement of certifications in the areas of sport and recreation leadership, coaching and officiating. This project works through high school education credits to help youth attain employment in the active living, sport and recreation sector, all while helping to reduce barriers to participation for younger youth and supporting them to graduate high school.

Program activities include hosting skills training and culturally relevant learning opportunities for youth; connecting training certificates to high school education credits (furthering students on their journey to high school graduation); and connecting youth to employers and/or post-secondary education.

To facilitate an increase in Indigenous youth leadership, 95 students from 27 schools received certificates in:

  • Field Leadership;
  • Earthwatch and Forestry Program;
  • Wellness and Outdoor Skills;
  • First Aid & CPR;
  • Soccer Referee;
  • FUNdamental Soccer Coaching;
  • Concussion in Sport;
  • WHMIS;
  • Wildlife Values; and
  • Outdoor Survival.

In total, 192 high school credits were earned, contributing to increased likelihood of high school completion. Participation in the program also enhances youth employment skills and facilitates participation in work experience or employment opportunities. After the program, 5 students signed up to be mentors to younger students in the Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program - an after school physical activity, snack and cultural program.

Students train to become mentors through the Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program (IYMP) at Frontier Lodge in Nordegg, Alberta on December 10 and 11, 2018.

Twenty students from Kainai High School partnered with University of Lethbridge lab field researchers to study Waterton Park and connect their Indigenous knowledge to the academic knowledge. Students had an opportunity to research, explore data related to fire, wolves and bison, and spend time outdoors for 5 days. The employment skills gained include data collection through various forms: GPS, compassing, transecting, animal tracking and more.

Since the program, three students were hired to work with this program in the following years, mentoring the next cohort of students. One student has gone on to take renewable management at post-secondary, and has now been hired by the organization. Camp leaders report huge impacts on team building and cooperating as a group.

A partnership with Edmonton Public School Board’s FNMI Education division served 27 students from 12 schools in one-credit weekend courses in Diversity of Wildlife Values and Outdoor Survival Skills. The courses focused on braiding traditional knowledge and ways of knowing with outdoor active CTS courses in the Wildlife stream.

Programming next year will expand to support newcomer and refugee youth with certifications and credits, with the additional outcome of improved youth employment or work experience opportunities by forming deeper relationships with employers in the recreation sector. We also intend to assess changes in youth self-efficacy for leadership, social inclusion and self-esteem through formal evaluation.

We at Ever Active Schools wish to acknowledge the incredible teachers, coaches, youth, elders and parents who are involved in this work, and whose efforts make it possible. You continue to inspire us.

We are grateful to work alongside many talented partner organizations who share similar values and are committed to improving the lives of children and youth. We appreciate your contributions.

Special thanks to Jumpstart for their generous support to these programs and for their dedication to making meaningful investments. We are grateful to be counted among your many community partners.

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