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Active Life: Programs help foster range of athletic skills

Devon Baker, left, Wyatt Dunkerton, Jordan Puckering, Darcy James, Mike Bates, Riley de Ruiter and Ezra McNabb can play floor hockey on the dry floor at Nanaimo Ice Centre in the summer. - KARL YU/The News Bulletin
Devon Baker, left, Wyatt Dunkerton, Jordan Puckering, Darcy James, Mike Bates, Riley de Ruiter and Ezra McNabb can play floor hockey on the dry floor at Nanaimo Ice Centre in the summer.
— image credit: KARL YU/The News Bulletin

Even though it’s summer, Nanaimo Ice Centre is still open with programs children can take part in.

Gary Paterson, City of Nanaimo arenas coordinator, said while the Hockey (Plus) Adventure Ice Hockey Camp and Cool Kids Skate Camp involve hockey, children will do more than just take faceoffs and slapshots.

“We’ve got the one sheet of ice for this July and August and it provides us about three hours a day of ice time and then that of course is supplemented by that opportunity to go for a swim (at the aquatic centre), or to go out and play soccer, California kickball, just take a nice walk and enjoy the Buttertubs Marsh,” said Paterson.

“We go over to Hawthorne Park one day a week, just to take in some games out on the field there, so it’s a real adventure for the kids.”

Paterson said it is in an arena setting, but staff still engage children in general improvement in physical literacy skills and instilling a love of being active and engaging with their peers.

While participants do work on hockey and hockey-related skills at both camps – the skate camp involves rec hockey and the hockey camp, skills development – the other activities the children participate in will help them become well-rounded, said Paterson.

“There’s nothing worse than focusing on one sport to the exclusion of others, so you end up with the 12-, 13-year-old who has no idea how to kick a soccer ball effectively, or has no idea how to pitch a softball. That is that idea that we’ve gotten them into a specific sport too soon and exclusively,” he said.

That is problematic, Paterson said. It’s not about becoming the sport or becoming an Olympian for most people. It is about having a well-rounded repertoire of physical skills, which include land-, ice and snow- and water-based.

“Kicking, throwing – these are the fundamental movement skills and these are what physical literacy is all about: making sure children have a wide variety of exposure to different skill sets and different sports so that as they mature and as they grow up, they keep their doors open,” said Paterson.

The Hockey (Plus) program, for kids aged six to 12, runs until July 22. Cool Kids Skate Camp (six to 11) begins July 25 and runs until Aug. 12.

For more information, please call 250-756-5200 or see the city activity guide, under the parks, rec and environment tab at www.nanaimo.ca.

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