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Active Life: Parks and rec gets high-fives for children’s fitness

Natasha Kosak, City of Nanaimo recreation leader, left, Tara Fedosoff, City of Nanaimo rec coordinator, and Catharine Edwards, PacificSport Vancouver Island program coordinator, believe in the principles of High Five, a standard of quality for children’s rec programs. They include the opportunity to play and make friends, with a caring adult around.  - KARL YU/The News Bulletin
Natasha Kosak, City of Nanaimo recreation leader, left, Tara Fedosoff, City of Nanaimo rec coordinator, and Catharine Edwards, PacificSport Vancouver Island program coordinator, believe in the principles of High Five, a standard of quality for children’s rec programs. They include the opportunity to play and make friends, with a caring adult around.
— image credit: KARL YU/The News Bulletin

The high-five is a victorious gesture, but for City of Nanaimo’s parks and recreation department, it’s also a set of guidelines for children’s fitness.

The city, with assistance of PacificSport Vancouver Island, provided training to summer employees on High Five, Canada’s quality guidelines for children’s activities and sport. It consists of five principles – presence of a caring adult, giving children the opportunity to make friends, play, master skills and participate.

Tara Fedosoff, city recreation coordinator, said children participating in parks and recreation activities will benefit from having leaders versed in High Five. They will receive positive training, she said.

“They’re going to learn to just be more competent with basic movement skills and that is the basis of everything we do as we age and if you don’t have that solid base, it keeps coming up later and later in life, so we want that to be delivered in a positive environment. Summer camp is a perfect place to do it,” Fedosoff said.

She said there is a mentality that children should be involved in organized sports and random play has been lost.

“What we’re trying to get back to is in a playful setting, learning the basics in a really fun way, the way we did (as kids) playing tag and catch, capture the flag and kick the can. We didn’t even think about that when we were kids, but we were learning all those skills doing that,” said Fedosoff.

Natasha Kosak, recreation leader with Girls Get Active program, received High Five training, which included learning games. Kosak said she will incorporate them into her program as they are perfect fillers.

“A lot of the time it’s just games you can also build on too, so it’s a base tag game and you can add your own little things ... if you’re doing a running game, you can add skipping into it or you can add arm movement just to develop different skills,” said Kosak.

Catharine Edwards, PacificSport Vancouver Island program coordinator, said High Five is essentially about getting kids to have fun.

“The program teaches leaders and others who participate in the program all about the principles around healthy child development and how we can assist children in becoming healthy, fit, not just for sport and physical activity, but in all areas of recreation that they participate in,” said Edwards.

For more information on summer recreation programs, please see the parks, recreation and environment tab, under departments at www.nanaimo.ca.

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