Brock in the World - Carribbean

Brock in the World - Carribbean

Students travel to the Caribbean to teach physical education, health and literacy
June 28, 2006

Most people travel to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the island of Antigua for rest and relaxation, but a group of Brock students recently visited both countries to teach physical education, health and literacy to school children in conjunction with the Scotiabank Champions for Health Promoting Schools initiative.

The month-long exchange was part of a fourth-year Physical Education and Kinesiology course, "International Perspectives in Physical Education, Sports and Health," which began in January and included weekly meetings, seminars, international IQ tests and orientation sessions leading up to the departure of students in April.

Heather Kidd, who was part of a group that traveled to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, helped to co-ordinate to the first BVI Unity Games for more than 400 students from the islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anengada and Jost van Dyke.

The Games were themed, "Care for Self, Care for Others," and they included an opening ceremony followed by numerous activities that emphasized healthy choices, self-respect, leadership and physical activity.

Events included parachute games where participants were encouraged to keep healthy food on the chute and bounce unhealthy foods off of it; a hydration station where students were instructed on the importance of proper hydration; and a lunch-time event, entitled "Cheering for a Healthy Lunch."

"During the first two weeks after our arrival, the biggest challenge was not to only learn from the students and teachers, but to make our presence there a two-way cultural exchange," says Kidd. "There was a lot of give and take between everyone involved."

Andrea Fry, who completed her exchange in Antigua, was part of a group of students who worked with the island's Ministry of Education to create murals at schools that celebrated images of children and youth making healthy choices. An array of health-promotion events was also held within each school community.

These events celebrated the theme Every Child is a Champion and consisted of a Healthy Olympics with events such as, School Yard Clean Up and What I Like About You. Fry and her group also organized a Health Fair for close to 650 students, where students were invited to present, through dance or song, something that they had learned or taken away from their guest instructors' teachings.

"Students had a strong desire and will to learn about health and physical education. They have a thirst for knowledge and are truly interested in learning," says Fry. "Students appreciated being told 'good job,' and individual support and attention were key factors that enabled us to form bonds, connect with students and establish trust during our exchange."