Being active can not only serve as a way of combating lifestyle diseases such as obesity – which South Africa has the highest rate of in Sub-Saharan Africa – but also serves as an outlet for negative emotions, anxiety and a sensory overload.
Also read: We asked children why they don’t get enough exercise – here’s what they said
For most schools this means P.E./P.T. once a week, or an afterschool extra curricular of soccer or tennis. Many children don’t really participate in the latter, which begs the question: Is one hour of physical education per week enough exercise for our growing boys and girls?
Roland School in Manitoba Canada knows it isn’t, so they made sure learners get in as much physical activity as possible with their “sensory path” – a colourful activity map that runs through the school’s main corridor.
“We are very focused on making sure our kids are learning both numeracy and literacy but also being mindful of their whole bodies and wellness, and wellness as a whole being,” says principal Brandy Chevalier of the pathway that sees students jump, squat, crawl and trace their hands on the coloured stickers on the floors and walls. And it seems to be working too.
Caleb Mitchell says, “[It] Really helps me calm down when I’m in a very active position… it just helps me burn some energy,” while Ethan Dyck says, “[It] helps me focus.”
Also read: WATCH: A new exercise guideline says we should get kids moving at age 3
To get to class in the morning, or even after break, students have to go through the sensory path, but teachers also send students out during lessons if they need to release some energy – good or bad. Afterwards, “they feel ready to sit down and to get down to work,” says Chevalier, and it’s also the perfect “preventative measure for some behaviour issues that might happen by a child who cannot regulate themselves to sit in class.”
The sensory hallway forces kids to exercise and also serves as a therapeutic release – two things we could definitely do with in SA schools as well.
How do you encourage physical activity with your kids? Tell us by emailing email@example.com and we may publish your comments and ideas.