After School Active

In our community, there aren’t necessarily a whole lot of things for kids to do. So we offer a program after school with the help of Sport Nova Scotia.

It feels so good to see these children being active and having so much fun doing it!

My name is Kirinda Glawson and I’m a school teacher at Sheet Harbour Consolidated School. Sheet Harbour is a small, rural community northeast of Halifax, along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. I’m the coordinator of the After School Program

For many of the children, it’s the highlight of their day. They’ll see me in the hallway and ask, “Do we have Sport Nova Scotia today, Mrs. Glawson?” They’re not always sure, since we alternate sessions between one group of students in grades three and four with another group from grades five and six. If I tell them “Yes!” that usually means a happy squeal and a high-five!

For a couple of hours after school, we have up to 25 children involved in activities and cooperative games, organized and delivered by youth leaders from Duncan MacMillan High School, just across the parking lot from us. There’s no cost to the students. Sport Nova Scotia pays the coordinator and the youth leaders. Snacks are provided by a corporate sponsor.

Each session starts with a warm up of relay races or tag, then we move into more organized games that focus on cooperation and teamwork more than competition.

Our kids have such a good time at these sessions. We’re at full capacity every afternoon. They love running around and doing all the activities. A few of the students are overweight, but they participate fully in the program. The whole point is that it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad at something, the idea is to just get involved and have some fun with it. And it’s a real boost to have the high school students paying attention to them and giving so much positive feedback.

It’s fun for me too, and a great release at the end of a busy school day. I put on a t-shirt and shorts and race around in my sneakers with the kids. It builds a different kind of relationship than in the classroom because the students see me in a totally different light. They see me down on the floor, squirming on my belly like they are. I see them laughing and giggling and making new friends.

There’s one little boy in particular – I get very emotional when talking about him – who came to our school last year with all sorts of behavioural and discipline issues. He was suspended several times and was disruptive in class. He had a lot of trouble staying focused and getting work done.

Halfway through the year, he showed some interest in joining the After School Program but didn’t have any way of getting home afterwards. With my principal’s support, I offered to drive him. It was a few minutes out of my way, but if it meant getting him into the program, I was more than happy to do it.

Well, the change in this little boy has been incredible. The biggest thing is that he’s been accepted by his peers. He’s made friends. The other children see him differently now. He’s gone from being the troublemaker to one of the regulars in the After School Program. He’s so much happier. His grades have improved and there have been fewer suspensions.

Getting involved in the program has had a huge impact on his life. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is.

The phys ed teacher tells me that she’s seen dramatic improvement in many of these students. Being involved in the program, they’re much more engaged in phys ed classes. Beyond just the level of activity, some of the students are becoming a lot more health conscious. We have a group of grade 6 girls, for example, who are much more aware now of the importance of exercise, nutrition and proper rest.

For the grade 6 students in general, they build relationships with the older leaders – bonds that carry into their first days of high school. I know of several – including my own son – who joined sport programs at high school because of the great experiences they had after school with us at Sheet Harbour Consolidated School.