Manitoba school gets physical literacy makeover

One rural Manitoba school is making physical literacy a priority for its students, installing both a 120’ Sensory Path and a rock-climbing wall in the past year. Principal Brandy Chevalier has received global recognition for the initiatives, which aim to get her students up and moving rather than spending all day in a desk. The school has been making headlines with outlets like the CBC.

“Roland School has a focus on physical literacy in a K-6 setting. Students at Roland start every day with a 5 to 15-minute active start to get their bodies moving and minds ready to learn,” Chevalier told Sport for Life. 

“Through our evaluation of student needs, in partnership with our divisional occupational therapist, we have embarked on a mission to educate the whole child, which includes mental, physical and academic learning.”

The 120’ Sensory Path is the first of its kind in Manitoba.  A team of professionals in kinesiology, special education, counselling and administration worked together with a graphic artist to design the path, which runs the entire hallway of the school and features a woodlands theme. School mascot Roland Raccoon makes appearances throughout. 

“When we as educators are aware of student needs for movement, we can plan opportunities to leave the classroom during the day and complete the sensory path. A sensory path serves as a preventative measure, geared towards improvements in focus and a reduction in overall disruptive behaviors.”

As for the 20-foot by 10-foot rock wall, the kids can’t get enough of it. According to Chevalier, they love the opportunity to climb while they’re at school. Now that the community has witnessed the power of providing kids with physical literacy opportunities such as these, they’re willing to invest in further initiatives in the future.

Next they plan to install a disc golf course on the school grounds, along with a running trail and an outdoor classroom.

Roland School is also privileged to have every class in the  building outfitted with alternative seating options such as standing desks, rockers, stools, stability balls, floor desks and so much more which directly complement the physical literacy initiatives that are in place,” said Chevalier. 

“We are a forward thinking facility that is all in when it comes to embracing a physical literacy educational setting. Our school is receiving immense kudos worldwide about the things we have going on here. It’s really exciting for us to say we’re kind of on the front end of this and leading the way for the nation.”

These are the types of initiatives Sport for Life CEO Richard Way loves to champion, and he hopes more elementary schools will follow Roland’s lead in making physical literacy a priority for the coming generations. He first heard of Chevalier’s work after she attended the International Physical Literacy Conference in Winnipeg this year. 

“We don’t need any more studies linking physical inactivity to negative health outcomes, and for students it’s been proven that keeping them engaged physically will help them focus and learn mentally. Roland School deserves all the accolades it’s getting as it sets an example for how we can make staying active a routine part of our daily lives,” he said.

“We applaud Principal Brandy Chevalier and her whole team on a job well done.”

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