Fully embracing the fluffy snow and warm winter days, students at St. John Catholic School in Guelph are strapping on their snowshoes and heading outside for physical education.
Following a successful Jumpstart grant application, new this year the students have access to snowshoes.
“Snowshoes are the perfect way to be active outside in the winter. In a large group, this activity is easy to maintain all COVID safety protocols. The snowshoes are fun and easy to use with every age. You just put them on and go, and they provide another way to be moving outdoors and loving nature at the same time,” shared David de Burger, St. John teacher and lead on the grant application.
The school received 77 pairs of snowshoes through the community partner Jumpstart, after applying for their grant.
“We have a set for our FDK to grade 2 classes, a set for our grade 3 to 6 classes, and a set that fits our grade 6, 7, 8 students. Classes can borrow them for a half day and every student in our school will be able to use them - hopefully, numerous times over the upcoming weeks,” he said. “Initiatives like this are most successful through a team effort. We are blessed to have a teaching team that develops creative ideas, an amazingly supportive and encouraging administration, wonderful custodians who find solutions for obstacles we may not think of, supportive families, and enthusiastic kids! With all of this in place, the final key piece of the team is the connection with an amazing community partner like Jumpstart!”
The idea for the grant came from brainstorming possibilities for their students to be active outdoors.
“Our driving mantra at St. John for the past few years has been to enable more Wildcats to be active, more often,” he said. “With the realities of COVID, we looked at what might inspire our students and teachers to choose to be active and outside. We were also motivated by other schools such as St. Ignatius, and our high schools who already have snowshoes as an outdoor option.”
And so far, the new activity has been a hit with the students.
“Students are genuinely excited to try this new activity,” he said. “The response from students so far has been outstanding.”
Among those responses are the exclamations of, "AWESOME".... "SO MUCH FUN"... "I STAY ON TOP OF THE SNOW"... "I LOVE GETTING OUTSIDE TO DO THINGS LIKE THIS!"
“I deeply believe that being active outdoors while appreciating nature is one of the keys to increasing our physical, mental, and spiritual health. This is something we all truly need right now. This program provides one more great way to make that happen and it enables more Wildcats to be active, more often!” shared de Burger.
While Ontario’s Wiarton Willie predicted an early spring, these Wildcats are hoping for a bit more winter to fully enjoy the use of their new snowshoes.