Students at Kehewin Junior/Senior High School got a lesson in skiing and healthy living.
Ski Fit North Alberta was at the school on Jan. 26, with their program that focuses on teaching aboriginal youth in Alberta how to cross country ski.
“We’re using the sport as a hook to promote mental health, drinking water, eating healthy food, getting lots of sleep, exercise and those kinds of things. We do short presentations on the lifestyles of healthy people,” explained Les Parsons, community outreach leader for Ski Fit North Alberta. “Then we get them out and have some fun on the skis to bring some joy to their lives.”
The group is travelling across the province from September to May promoting healthy and active living.
The 80-minute session is for students in Grade 3 and up. Following the presentation, they provide students with boots, skis and poles, teaching them the basics of cross county skiing. The youth learn how to put on their skis, how to fall down and get up, how to turn around, and some other skiing techniques.
“They love going up and down the hills that’s the best part,” said Parsons. “We wrap up with some fun relays or ski games and then we bring in the next class.”
The school was excited to get their students out taking in the fresh air and learning a new sport.
“From the feedback from teachers, I found it was a very positive experience for the students. It exposed a lot of them to cross country skiing for the first time,” said Dale Hunter, who teaches physical education at Kehewin high school.
In addition to learning a new activity, the program promotes healthy living, an important aspect to Kehewin Junior/Senior High.
“When they started talking with the students that was one of the first things they went through was leading a healthy lifestyle. The students were providing feedback of what they thought a healthy lifestyle looks like,” explained Hunter.
Beckie Scott from Vermilion created this program. Scott won an Olympic gold medal in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Parsons was Scott’s ski coach back when she was in high school.
“She is the main driver behind this program. She’s trying to encourage aboriginal youth to ski. She has a real concern and soft spot for aboriginal youth because she has seen them in her travels around the world,” explained Parsons.
Another focus of this organization is to encourage schools in the area to create their own ski programs, but Parsons noted, “We’re not so worried about the racing, but more about the healthy lifestyle. We’re up against diabetes and other big issues for not just First Nations, but also everybody.”
For those who are interested in taking part in this free program, they can visit skifitnorthalberta.com for more information.
“The kids are really receptive, they love it. There could be an Olympic champion somewhere out in the bush here,” said Parsons. “I’ve been to five Olympics myself, but this is way better.”