My dad had clocked it for me and three times round was a mile. ParticipACTION had hit big and ensured that we all knew that 60 year old Swedes were fitter than the average Canadian half their age.
Things were simpler back then. Their “don’t just think about it, do it” message really resonated with Canadians. The radio and TV PSAs became part of the background of our lives during the next two decades.
Remember the “Body Break” commercials with Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod? They stressed simple movements and exercises to increase your fitness level. All you really needed was a pair of running shoes and if you didn’t have them you would do stationary exercises while sitting on the couch.
Hoping to do for kids what ParticipACTION did for adults, the Canada Games Council is launching the Canada Games Activity Challenge next month as a signature project of Canada 150.
It’s specifically for students between ages five and 12 and the organizers are hoping elementary schools across the country will get on board and sign up for this fun three month challenge to mark the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games.
It’s a deluxe, digital and way more fun version of exercise than ever before, created by gamification experts and specially designed for kids.
Everything is online. Students get short videos of other kids demonstrating the day’s exercises sent to their email. They will have their own personalized dashboard and be able to customize their avatar once they’ve downloaded the computer application.
The web based app tracks their participation in daily exercises with their class, in exercises done at home and in bonus exercises.
Just like online games it also calculates reward points that accumulate in their accounts; the more they participate, the more prizes they can win. Anything from virtual accessories for their avatar and virtual Canada Games pins to prizes donated by the provincial teams competing in the Canada Games.
Inspirational messages from Canada Games alumni and high profile Canadians will randomly pop up as they complete more exercises throughout the Activity Challenge.
Every student who completes the challenge will receive a certificate signed by Justin Trudeau.
The school exercises can be facilitated either by classroom teachers or by PE teachers who will be supported with their choice of daily or weekly directions, animations and videos sent to their emails.
Each of them will also have their own app that helps them track students progress and participation points through the three modules of the activity challenge.
The first module starts on Feb. 13 and the last one ends on May 30.
To complete the Canada Games Activity Challenge, students have to participate in at least 20 days of activities during each module.
Both the exercises done in class and the ones done at home take anywhere from five to 30 minutes. They’re devised to be simple and not need much equipment, so they can be done anywhere – from a one room school in a rural community to the biggest elementary school in Toronto.
The only catch is that students can’t sign up for the Activity Challenge on their own. That has to be done by a teacher or even better a principal. If a principal signs up the entire school, the school is eligible for special prizes and maybe even national recognition. Failing that, a teacher can sign up their own class.
According to Melissa Layton who oversees registrations in the Canada Games Activity Challenge, 42 of the approximately 50 elementary schools in Winnipeg School Division have some classes enrolled. Yay, Winnipeg!
She did add there’s still lots more room for schools and classes to register though the numbers are continually growing.
Those registering by Jan. 27 will be eligible for a school visit from Olympian Jenn Heil or Paralympian Bo Hedges, the two ambassadors for the Canada Games Activity Challenge. The Canadian athletes will be visiting two schools picked randomly from all those with classes enrolled by the 27th.
Both are sought after speakers who devote a lot of time to promoting amateur sport in Canada.
Bo Hedges was on the mens basketball team that won a silver medal at the 2008 Paralympic games in Beijing and a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic games in London UK.
They both know how important physical literacy is and this challenge is designed to follow the guidelines in Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development model (LTAD) ensuring that certain movement milestones are met at each age. Just maybe a few of the students taking part will go on to compete at the Canada Games or even the Olympics in future years.
We won’t know how many classes in Winnipeg Schools are taking part in the challenge until Feb. 13 which is the day the challenge starts and the very last day schools and classes can enroll.
Thousands of kids across the country will be having fun and getting active in the coming months. Why not make sure your child is enrolled?
Today’s technology will allow you to follow along with your very own app and you can have videos for the exercises sent to your inbox too.
Partcip-ACTION as we knew it in the 70’s will seem really old school, a throwback to another era.
By the way, ParticipACTION has also changed and now has its own digital interface. You can find it at participaction.com Check out their 150 playlist.