Move to Grow campaign starts to roll in motion

October 28, 2018
By Jens Nielsen, Editor, Saskatchewan Bulletin

All the usual suspects predictably said all the right things as the students at Roland Michener School looked on to witness the official launch of the Move to Grow campaign championed by Saskatoon Public Schools.
Perhaps of more significance was the fact that when this ambitious initiative was first discussed approximately 10 months ago, one of the first barometers was the canvassing of families’ views in not only encouraging more students to walk, ride or roll to school, but also the issue of safety therein.


Given the number of surveys out there, Active Transportation Committee Chairperson Brad Smith was understandably delighted when they had more than 2,000 responses.


“That gave us a pretty good idea of the level of engagement in the community. What you’re seeing for today’s kickoff is just the start, and beyond this we want to build strong involvement from parents and students alike. We’re not looking at this to be a one-year thing; our overall goal is education. Just knowing how much more engaged and ready to learn kids are when they are active will invariably make them better learners in our schools,” Smith said.
Smith, also the vice-principal at Mount Royal Collegiate, is a former physical education teacher. So this movement is a source of considerable passion for himself–though he sheepishly acknowledged he hasn’t been that much of a cyclist, although he plans on changing that.


According to Smith, one of the ways to hopefully maintain the momentum is to have a different nuance to the delivery each month. The message will be delivered to all the division’s 62 schools, including via regular mention in the respective school newsletters. He indicated the program would be tailored to include students from grades 1 to 12.
“We’ve accumulated data in helping to build our plan and that included determining why there was a number of students not being especially active. So we have looked at how important it is to have this as part of the mindset in such a way that the program can be sustainable for the long term. I view this as a paradigm shift, and it’s really important that we focus on both the physical activity aspect, safety and the family connection part. I’m excited thinking about what we can accomplish together.”
Smith readily conceded that the video and cellphone generation has contributed to a decreased lack of physical activity for many youth.


“Times have changed and we know that; we want to change some of the habits kids get into. Our hope is to empower them and provide the resources to help them with wellness and general good health. The research all shows the benefits, and for me this is a natural fit. In my own case, I know that spending 10 minutes each and every day often pays benefits so we just want to spread the word,” Smith said. 
The campaign will continue into the winter months when the focus will be on teaching students to dress properly in order to walk to school.


In the meantime, Smith and his committee are also staying active by looking to secure partnerships with local businesses and organizations to provide equipment if necessary. For more information please visit the Move to Grow page on the Saskatoon Public Schools website at spsd.sk.ca/division/movetogrow.