Red Deer Lake finds 150 ways to exercise

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Residents and students are willing to think outside of the box at Red Deer Lake School to get the community active.

And, nothing breaks a box wide open like throwing an axe.

Nine-year-old Hyalia Letendre, a Grade 4 student at Red Deer Lake School, did some axe-throwing so the Canadian activity could be crossed off the ParticipACTION 150 play list.

“We were at a Priddis barbecue and there was axe-throwing and I thought I would try it,” Letendre said. “It wasn’t like a big axe like you use to chop, it was like a hatchet… Me and my brother did get close to hitting the target but it didn’t stick on.”

Red Deer Lake School did hit their target of doing all 150 activities when the student body all jumped rope on Dec. 6 in the school’s Donovan Martin gymnasium.

Dave Wooldridge, Red Deer Lake School physical education teacher, first thought of tackling all 150 events when receiving information from ParticipACTION early in 2017 — the year of Canada’s 150th birthday.

“I thought what a great event for our school community,” Wooldridge said. “And it was the community, because there are some things you can’t do with the kids.

“You can’t hunt, we didn’t have sailboats, and so we needed the whole community to get it done.”

Wooldridge would check things off as the four seasons came into play.

“There were things we could do in school, build a snowman, tobogganing, but there were things we would likely not do,” Wooldridge said. “So I would send out monthly newsletters to parents saying: ‘Hey if anyone is going fishing take a picture,’ ‘if you are going to throw axes, take a picture.’”

There was one student who had a relative who did roller derby. The relative who participated, sent in a photo — check it off. For a wheelchair basketball, there was one wheelchair-bound student who played hoops for an afternoon in order to take it off the list.

Some of the events were as diverse as Canada’s cultures — and excellent learning opportunities for students and adults.

“In September, we did a bit in gym class doing things that are native to Canada but we don’t do,” Wooldridge said. “Like the Inuit knuckle hops and the one-foot high kick that are truly part of Canada’s culture but we don’t see very much.”

They also participated in adapted games for para-athletes, such as goal-ball, a game played in which the participants are blindfolded.

They try to roll a ball, which has bells on it, by the opposing players.

Other adapted games included sitting volleyball.

Grade 9 students Justin Plett and Angelina Kierzek were one of the hundreds of students jumping rope to complete the 150th activity.

“When I first heard our school was going to do this, I thought this is a great idea,” Plett said. “The most interesting one was goal-ball, when you’re just using your ears.

“It was really a fun game.”

Kierzek was a touch overwhelmed when she heard about the project.

“I thought it was really cool — wow 150 that’s an awful lot of stuff to do,’’ she said. “It was fun doing all those different things.”

She found the knuckle hops the most difficult.

“It’s like a push-up but you are on your knuckles — it hurt and it was really hard,” she said.

Justin said kin-ball involved massive student participation.

“One team would hold up a giant ball and there would be two or three other teams,” he said. “You would hit the ball and say “Omnikin Red and then the red team would have to keep the ball up.”

Kinball was a game the veteran Wooldridge used years ago in his career — and thanks to the students’ enthusiasm at Red Deer Lake, he plans to revive it in his programs.

Broomball was another one popular with students.

The biggest participation was jumping rope. Hundreds of students were skipping at the Martin gym while Van Halen’s Jump was blaring through speakers.

Go ahead, jump, — it is about participation.

“I saved this one for the last because I knew we could do it as a group,” Wooldridge said.

To see all 150 activities go to participaction.com

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