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Sunday, March 25, 2018

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Falling over

Heidi Lichtwark
Chief Executive Officer
Sport Bay of Plenty

I had loads of fun while watching my son’s cross country this week.

My first giggle was when my son suggested he needed ‘fast shoes’ for the run. I quietly wondered if these existed and if so, why I’d never brought myself any. He then went on to explain that fast shoes had flame patterns on the bottom. Of course! The experience continued as I marvelled at the teacher’s ability to contain the 5, 6 and 7 year olds’ energy into sitting still listening to the instructions first.

Then the 5 year olds ran, and one boy seemed to sprint the entire 1km course and finished 400 metres ahead of everyone else. How did he keep going and not look back the crowd of parents wondered. At the finish line he explained that he just ‘loved the race’. I’m sure all adults would aspire to be in the moment that effectively.

My favourite part came when many of my son’s 6 year old group (running almost 2kms) fell over in in the longish grass or tripped on the hills and all of them just got back up and kept running; fantastic! I reflected that this was the essence of sport and recreation in action. In the sport & recreation sector we often talk about the life skills that children learn in sport. Not just movement, or fundamental sport skills, brain development or any of the other technical bits we analyse a lot. But this was the life skill of resilience. A skill we all need, and would probably like more of at times!

All the children were being resilient. They knew they had to keep going. The 2011 Young Person Survey (Sport NZ) showed that in the BOP, our children 5-12 years of age had a significantly higher (than NZ average) involvement in recreation activities and play. This is something to celebrate. If even for the resilience type skills they will be learning alone – this is something to be proud of. The weather might be colder and the days shorter at the moment however action and play is always possible.

Lastly there was another excellent quote from the cross country. One girl stopped midway through the course and questioned, “Isn’t it lunchtime yet, I’m starving”. Aaaah; honesty, another key life skill.


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