Fostering the Fun for Physical Well Being
by Mark Ralph, Whole School Physical and Health Education Team LeaderWith the growing issue of obesity in children and adults, lifelong physical activity could hardly be more important and valuable than it is now. According to trend data from 188 countries, 2.1 billion people – nearly 30% of the world's population -- are either obese or overweight. The rise in global obesity rates over the last three decades has been substantial and widespread, presenting a major public health problem for both the developed and the developing world.
With the introduction of the 'new chapter' in the IB Middle Years Program (MYP), Physical Education took on a new role: Physical and Health Education (PHE). Tasked with educating students not only about various sports and activities but how to elaborate on these activities to make sure our programs are providing health education to all students, the new chapter reflects the growing need to encourage lifelong physical activity for overall well-being.
All students at YIS have the opportunity to participate in a range of physical activities (team/individual, competitive/non-competitive, fitness, leisure/recreation), all of which enhance their overall health. Most of all, students are inspired to continue this activity beyond the classroom and into adulthood.
To capture the interest and imagination of students, all units in PHE are taught conceptually and challenge the students to think at more elevated levels about the activity they are inquiring into. Classes facilitate collaborative and active learning where students have control over their learning and have an element of choice, developing a greater sense of student ownership over the activity. By delivering a curriculum that is diverse and full of opportunities for students to find their strengths and explore new activities, we are providing a platform for students to develop their confidence and enthusiasm for sport as well as allowing them to grow as leaders.
A parent recently commented on the program saying 'I now have to try and find a Lacrosse team in the area as my son loved the lessons he spent learning a brand new game'. Fostering this interest and dedication has resulted in just over 60% of secondary students participating in after-school sporting activities, from volleyball and basketball to field hockey and quidditch, as well as a large number of students participating further at home and at weekends.
Many staff at YIS model the kind of enthusiasm for sport, health and wellness that is expected of our students and show that sport and physical activity is accessible and fun for everyone, young or old. We have staff participating in many physical activities such as soccer, basketball, hiking, climbing, skiing, yoga and dancing.
The benefits of lifelong physical activity are well documented but I would like to close by promoting one benefit in particular. With the pressures of school, university and work, we often neglect exercise in favor of meeting deadlines or submitting homework. Physical exercise is not only important for your body's health- it also helps your brain stay sharp. Your brain is no different than the rest of the muscles in your body. The brain needs oxygen to function, and by exercising you are increasing the oxygen supply to the brain, resulting in better memory, information processing, sleep, behavior, decision making, time keeping to name a few benefits. So get active, and stay active, for a truly balanced life.