Sport for Life Leaders School helps PISE deliver physical literacy to indigenous students

It takes time to build trust. When instructors from the Pacific Institute of Sport Excellence (PISE) go into a school to develop physical literacy, they know it will take time to establish a rapport with the students involved–which is especially true when working with indigenous kids. Having a solid foundation of knowledge and being able to draw upon the experience of leaders across the country can really make a difference.     

“It’s important that we show this isn’t just a one-shot wonder. We don’t just go in and leave. We’ve been working in two communities for multiple years now, and that length of time earns trust and allows us to implement more effective strategies,” said Chris Wright, head of physical literacy development at PISE.

Wright enrolled in Sport for Life’s Leaders School to connect with other professionals working in the same area, and was partnered with a recreation professional from the Northwest Territories who was also administering programs for aboriginal populations. They found fascinating ways where their work overlapped, and shared expertise.

“We were looking at where more knowledge could be gained about this, and instead of enrolling in a post-secondary program Leaders School seemed like a great way to explore this further. It was awesome to see people from the other side of the country and hear their perspectives, because it makes you understand that though it’s a big country we’ve got the same issues.”

While many teachers rely on old standards such as Tag and Dodge Ball, PISE instructors like Wright are able to supply the teachers with a variety of other games that can be modified for all ages and abilities. During that process, they end up becoming quite embedded with the students. They’re currently working at two schools in the Victoria area with indigenous populations.

“I always feel like a celebrity when I walk in there and they all shout my name, they all want to say hi. It really shows the rapport we’re building and the impact we’re having, and it shows they value the work we’re doing.”

Wright finished Leaders School over three years ago, and he has been implementing the theoretical knowledge gained in practical ways.

“We’ve adapted our program to challenge everybody, and through the grades things get a little more competitive without focusing on winning or losing. We focus more on teamwork and communication, bringing in the social emotional learning elements. We embed our staff in the P.E. classes of these schools, and then our staff educate teachers on what quality physical education can look like.”

He recommends Leaders School to any professionals working in physical literacy, recreation or quality sport who may be looking to up their game, and figures it was crucial in helping him reach the students in his program.

“No matter what stage of your career you’re at, Leaders School is the type of opportunity that will let you develop your skills and ideas with help from industry professionals.”

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