Day 75/76 – day off (total – 1654.6 km)
Quote of the day – “Do you know Justin Bieber?”
When I finished running on Thursday afternoon, it was sunny and warm. Like sandal-wearing warm! Twenty-four hours later, a snowstorm had set in which would bring about 25 cm of snow. What made up for the landscape turning white again though were our two visits to schools on Friday.
Our first visit was to Nashwaaksis Middle School in North Fredericton. The contact with Mr. Yaychuk, one of the Phys Ed teachers, had been made through my friend Katie who currently teaches out in BC but taught at this school last year. They had a beautiful theatre and we rotated through various grades, chatting with over 700 students throughout the course of the morning. And the students had some really good questions at the end of each presentation… like do I know Justin Bieber?! Kidding… although the school seemed to be on a little JB kick, they challenged me with some questions that left me thinking. Sometimes, I like to share some of the research that’s out there, particularly when I’m speaking with older students. Research like how time outside can lead to increased academic performance, better language skills, an increased sense of creativity and better self-confidence. There are many other great things that research has shown, but those are usually some of the ones I mention. So when a student asked, “How exactly does being outside give me better self-confidence?”, I am torn. I feel fairly well-versed with this issue but I certainly can’t cite all the analysis and results from the findings of many studies. So my response ended up being, “In my experience…”.
I don’t want to discount research in any way – it is definitely a valuable tool. But I have learned first hand through my own research for my Master’s thesis that increased knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to changed attitudes or behaviours. Week after week, we can read new studies in the Globe and Mail, see the latest StatsCan results on obesity and inactivity, watch news clips on the latest developments of screen time and its affect on our health. But for a grade 8 student, I question whether all of this has the impact we might hope it would.
In the afternoon, we went to Devon Middle School and chatted with a small group of students who were involved in a couple different programs put on by Terry Kelly, who is the Community School Coordinator for a couple of schools in the Fredericton area. The chat with the students was good, but the real agent of change in these student’s lives is someone like Terry. In the morning, he had taken a group of students out for an hour and a half walk in the woods not far from the school. He is passionate and his energy for connecting these students with meaningful projects is quite evident. He takes the time to develop relationships with the students and engages them in important conversations.
Yesterday was a good reminder for me of how I relay information that I have learned and how that’s communicated to others. I think research can give us knowledge. But simply reciting various statistics that we’ve read or heard or seen doesn’t necessarily lead to changed attitudes and behaviours. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”. That is why Terry is committed to giving his students a project of spreading the message themselves of Take Me Outside. They will collectively write a blog or make a video, which we will post on our site. We look forward to that!