Posted: March 23, 2016
Mr. K. Scully invited Mr. Kevin Watson Manager for Parks and Recreation for the City of Saint John, Executive Director for Boxing NB and former Canadian Boxing Champion and International competitor, to introduce the Fit Box pilot project to Harcourt school children.
Mr. Scully stated, " I want to thank you, Mr. Watson, and Boxing NB for such an interesting, dynamic and progressive component to the physical education program. The response from students,teachers and parents was extremely welcoming and supportive. Children wanted more in terms of, “when can we do this again?” Staff were verypositive in termsof student participation and equally enthusiastic about the program for adult fitness as well! Many parents phoned or came to the school to express their supportand desire to have this activity continue with their children."From a physical education point of view, I have to say that this program was very impressive in many areas. The actual physical component included progressions that were well structured for the age and skill level of each group that participated. The discussions were limited to appropriate time blocks for the level of attention span for the age groups.
Mr. Watson included a very effective modeling process to his demonstrations: He began with a short, specific and concise verbal explanation, followed by a physical demonstration for those who learn visually. He allowed for a small practice session of approximately one minute, and quickly brought the students back if any points of concern were noted. Then the activity process would ensue.
I particularly appreciate that Mr. Watson was very safety conscience with every activity that he was to initiate. He was constantly implementing best practices of modeling a scanning the room for potential danger while focusing his attention on the task at hand. All activities were of sound time limits for the age he was working with, the activity was challenging yet attainable for all children, and it was extremely fun for every participant!
The program was very much aligned with Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) and fell within the guidelines for the programs; Acitve Start and FUNdamentals which are part of New Brunswick Physical Education Society (NBPES), School District PE Curriculum for alternative sports, and all provincial sport organizations within the province. Bravo!!
The benefits of this program are noteworthy: The program focuses on fitness as opposed to competition, which bodes well for elementary school level children (yet there is, I believe, an opportunity for competitive boxing at the club level) there are great social benefits as well as every child is capable of experiencing success at their own level.
Harcourt School has a high number of Special Needs Children and inclusionary practices are paramount! With a population of thirty-six children, over half of which are special needs-we have six Autistic Children; seven children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; two children with Oppositional Defiant Syndrome; and several functioning at a much lower mental capability than their chorological ages; all of which took part in the program. They were encouraged to work to their own ability level within the large group, utilizing scaffolding support from other students and teachers, and Mr. Watson himself. This is absolutely astounding! These children were not singled out from the mainstream children nor were they visibly discernable from the other children.
I believe from an administrative and physical education specialist perspective, that this program has several key critical components:
1.) Maintain the non-competitive nature of the program with focus on fun and fitness rather than a farm system for club recruitment-that will follow naturally through the progressive nature of the program.
2.) Mr. Watson was very specific as to the target audience i.e. shorten the explanation times for in proportion to the age group-K-1 group 30sec to 1 min max with visual modeling. Gr 2-3, 1 min to 1.5 min max for verbal explanation and so on…and explained the target goals as is new methodology for school curriculum presentation.
3.) Keep the skill level requirement to the ability level of the age group with challenging but achievable goals and modify the components and challenges as the age level progresses.
4.) Mr. Watson included components of fitness (cardio), flexibility, speed, agility, balance, power and strength; and he kept in mind the physical literacy ( learned through repetition and practice) and stamina requirements, to each lesson-He would then naturally take into consideration the changing skill levels, fitness, stamina etc., and adapt his new lessons to match these changes while technique is becoming established.
In closing, I believe that Fun Box has incredible potential to add itself to the increasing demands of quality physical education programs throughout the province. I believe that school districts would embrace this innovative, motivational and fun activity as part of the physical education program not only as an alternative sport/activity, but part of the yearly curriculum.
I want to thank Boxing NB and especially Mr. Kevin Watson for introducing the community of Harcourt School to a wonderful, invigorating, fun activity that provides a place for all children, regardless of intellectual, social or physical perception of disability, to a place of inclusion, belonging and acceptance.
The Harcourt Recreation Council as a partner of Harcourt School has already begun researching the potential of purchase of practice boxing gloves and focus- mits for the new school year. We’re “hooked”! (See more pictures in the gallery)