Mayor Darrin Canniff joined Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School students and staff for the school's weekly Walking Wednesdays, part of a community-wide initiative to help Chatham-Kent residents - especially students - become more healthy and fit.
"Walking Wednesdays are part of our school's new physical literacy initiative," says Kelly Van Boxtel, Principal of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School. "We realize it takes a community to raise a physically, socially, intellectually, mentally and emotionally healthy child. These walks help to promote the idea of being physically active among our students, which improves wellbeing."
The St. Clair Catholic District School Board has partnered with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, the Lambton Kent District School Board, Sport for Life and the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, as recipients of a $519,400 Ontario Trilliuim Grow grant, to support a wide-ranging physical literacy initiative in Chatham-Kent.
"St. Clair Catholic is pleased to be a partner in this important initiative to help create a community where parents, teachers and coaches are trained and supported as they help to deliver quality physical literacy skills and practices to children and youth," says Deb Crawford, Director of Education.
Participating St. Clair Catholic schools include Our Lady of Fatima and St. Vincent, Chatham; St. Anne, Blenheim; St. Joseph, Tilbury; and Holy Family, Wallaceburg and will involve the Board's Mental Health & Wellbeing Lead, Health & Physical Education staff, Catholic Curriculum Services and Special Education Services, in addition to community partners.
A Canadian Health Measures Survey has shown that only five percent of children and youth ages 5 to 17 and 15 percent of adults are active. In Chatham-Kent, more than 60 percent of adults and 40 percent of children are overweight or obese, with rates of chronic disease or related deaths higher than the provincial average.
"The purpose of this multi-sectoral approach is to work together to create quality physical literacy experiences that transcend all ages and sectors of our community," says Lisa Demers, Superintendent of Education and Lead for the Physical Literacy initiative. "The goal is to build physical literacy in young people now to prevent illness later in life."
School action plans include Wellness Nights, Walking Wednesdays, Recess Reboots, Active Hallways, running clubs and tennis, golf and lacrosse instruction.
"We are grateful to the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, which is the lead agency for this tremendous initiative," says Mrs. Crawford. "We believe that by working together with our partners, we have the opportunity to change the health profile of our community!"
The physical literacy initiative is funded for three years.
In the photos (above L-R) OLOF Teacher Lisa Matteis and Mayor Darrin Canniff join students and Kelly Van Boxtel, Principal of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School for a recent Walking Wednesday; and (below) students at OLOF on the march during Walking Wednesday in the school yard.