Lynn Brown loves physical activities of all sorts.
She belongs to a gym, is part of a dragonboat team and her summer activities include hiking, biking and kayaking.
“I like to be outdoors,” said Brown. “It re-energizes me. Physical activity and healthy living is my life, that’s my mantra.”
It’s a mantra the Dover Bay Secondary School English teacher has passed on to her students through her innovative teaching practices.
Brown recently won a Physical Education Teaching Excellence award from Physical Health and Education Canada, a national professional organization for physical and health educators.
The awards are given out annually to one teacher in each province who demonstrates excellence in teaching physical education and an ability to motivate children and youth to participate in physical activity.
Brown volunteered for 17 years to coach students in a variety of sports, including basketball, volleyball, cross-country running and track and field.
She is also one of several regional trainers in Nanaimo for Action Schools! B.C., a provincially funded organization that aims to help children make healthy choices.
Her duties include holding workshops for elementary school teachers on how to get students moving using resource bins the organization provides to districts.
Brown also promotes healthy living by getting students involved in a leadership capacity.
At Dover, she got Grade 12 students to set up circuit exercises for younger students and when she taught at the elementary level several years ago, she had Grade 7 students running lunchtime activity programs for their peers.
Having older students run the activities and thinking about what would make them fun for the younger students resulted in more engagement in the exercises, said Brown.
She also brings physical activity and healthy eating lessons into all of her classes.
A Grade 9 literacy class read a text on the subject, then created a powerpoint presentation and delivered it to students at Randerson Ridge Elementary School, after which they did some circuit exercises with the students.
Brown said the students were able to recite key facts the Grade 9’s had taught at the beginning of the lesson.
“For [the senior students] it was a really good feeling, that they listened to them and learned from them,” she said.
And even if her students aren’t learning about healthy lifestyles, she incorporates action breaks into the day.
“These kids need to be moving,” she said, adding that sitting still for 80 minutes can be hard for many students.
Brown has presented the findings of her peer coaching trials at conferences all over the world, alongside her peer Mary-Lynn Epps, with whom she started her work at the elementary school level.
Epps has continued the work at Randerson Ridge.
Brown said schools could be doing more to promote physical activity.
“Just opening up more opportunities for recreation and fun physical activities,” said Brown. “Another big thing we can do is get kids walking to school more.”