East View Public School, Ontario- Sault Ste Marie

East View Public School is located in an urban setting with 79% of the student population from the Garden River Indian Reserve, and a large number of families living on social assistance and/or in single parent families.  A significant number of students do not have the financial capacity to participate in activities outside the school environment.

Of concern in the school community is the fact that diabetes has become a disabling disease with First Nations suffering at a rate of 3 to 5 times higher than the general population.  Principal Steve Bodnar had already recognized the school’s role in promoting healthy eating to support diabetes education at the school, with an extensive healthy eating campaign.

With assistance from GoodLife Kids Foundation, East View Public School is now setting up the next phase of this initiative – providing students with additional opportunities to be physically active at school.  GoodLife Kids Foundation has helped to set up a simple, friendly exercise studio where students in grades 5 to 8 can ride a stationary bike, stretch on an exercise ball and do some mild resistance training in a safe and non-judgmental setting.    The program provides the opportunity to develop student leaders in grade 8 to oversee the fitness circuit.  In addition the fitness studio initiative will be integrated into overall school programming including a morning workout, monthly assemblies, and student body group exercise classes.

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The Confidence to Try #FEELGOODFRIDAY Lukas is a 10-year-old Raptors fan who plays basketball with his local chapter of Special Olympics, but it wasn’t that long ago that he was afraid to join a team. Lukas is an outgoing kid who likes to make friends and has always been very active. But his early experiences in organized physical activity were not positive. One of his biggest challenges with autism is struggling to follow directions in large groups. He was often told he was doing things wrong and even that he would embarrass the team. “These negative comments deflated his confidence, and he became afraid to try new things,” explained his mom Lisa. When he was eight, Lukas took part in the Sports of All Sorts program at the Geneva Centre for Autism. The supportive environment in the Sports of All Sorts program, funded by a GoodLife Kids grant, was a real game-changer for him. Constant encouragement and positive reinforcement gave Lukas a safe space to explore new activities without a fear of being judged. With one-on-one support he played basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. “We’re so glad to make physical activity a regular part of Lukas’ life and we’ve found ways for him to continue practicing at home,” said Lisa. “We bought a tennis net for the backyard, and now that he’s not afraid, he loves to go to glow-in-the-dark mini-putt with his dad!” As Lukas turned around on the basketball court to wave to his mom, he gave her two big thumbs up and her eyes welled up with tears of joy. “Watching him enjoy himself, I’m overwhelmed with happiness and pride,” she shared. “He has talents! But most of all, he has regained a belief in himself – that he CAN do it – and that is so powerful.”

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