Dear Friends, Family and Followers of the Champions for Health Promoting Schools Program,
Today we finished our last Unity Games of our trip. In the morning we had the amazing opportunity to have a track and field meet at the Adele school. Adele is the school for special needs children. These students are unlike most that we have seen on the island in that they are driven to complete any and all tasks set before them. These children truly brought out a smile in every single teacher today with their positive attitude and willingness to participate. In saying our goodbyes Mitch Hardington (their Canadian teacher) handed out certificates that were made for each student at Adele to show our support and appreciation for their contribution to our program over the last 9 years. In the afternoon we then headed to Five Islands Primary, which is also the biggest school we have been to. The Canadian teachers have progressed from numbers of only 9 children per group at other schools into having sometimes 28 students at this school. It seems fitting that as we progressed through schools, and the number of students increased, the abilities of us as teachers increased as well.
I want to thank all the sponsors for their donations to this program. We use every single piece of equipment that is donated in order to teach our lessons as well as for our activities in Unity Games. I want to personally thank Dale Hannesson for the medical supplies, Kerry Niven for sports equipment, Tim Hortons for their contribution of both sports equipment and school supplies, and the BC Lions for both the small and large footballs. Without these donations this program would not be able to run so thank you for your contributions and know that these children have the biggest smile on their face everyday when we bring the equipment out.
As the Unity Games coordinator I was surprisingly not stressed at all and there is only one reason for that. I have felt supported and encouraged by every single one of my champions. They have stuck by my side through my moods of extreme stress and celebrated with me through each triumph. In being the Unity Games coordinator I am truly privileged to see them teach and grow. Looking back on the first Unity Games many of them did not know what to expect. In seeing them today I cannot explain the growth of these teachers as individuals. Words cannot describe the passion that they have shown throughout these four weeks. Their ability to constantly take on challenges and succeed show that they have not only grown in their capabilities but they radiate confidence in their teaching. As a second year I thought that my role would be to take each of them under my wing, but instead they have taken me under theirs and shown me that there are no boundaries to our abilities, there are no challenges that are too big, there is nothing that we can’t do together. They have out performed my expectations and made me so confident in them that I have changed as a leader. I do not need to stress about what is happening in Unity Games because I know that they can handle anything. These champions are what have made Unity Games successful beyond my expectations. I cannot thank them enough for what they have taught me, and what we have accomplished together.
This experience is unlike any other. As young teachers we constantly are testing the boundaries of our capabilities and are often forced outside our comfort zones. But through our perseverance we have found success. We have grown together and as individuals finding what our strengths and challenges are. Although it is hard to always notice the change in these children, I have learned as a second year that we are not only teaching life skills, but offering these children a new perception of teaching that is reflected in their behaviour. This is not a trip without its struggles, but without struggle there is no progression. Each and every one of these champions came here without expectations and in leaving I believe they, like the children, have been given a new perspective of life. This group has become a family in that we are diverse in our teaching as well as our personalities but we have come together as a team depending and relying on each other each and every day for support.
This year has given me a new perspective on teaching as my teaching partners Rebecca Gannon-Snow and Faye Junos have shown me how to allow my personality to shine through when I teach. I have learned that in teaching failure is inevitable but they have taught me that it is how you deal with your failures that allow you to pick yourself up and persevere. Without their support I do not think I would have grown as much as I have and for that I will be forever grateful as a colleague and friend. In reflecting back on my experience of this trip I find myself speechless (I am never speechless).
To Jo I cannot thank you enough for bringing me back a second time. This trip is never the same twice and without you I would not have this opportunity. There is not much I can say to express my gratitude and appreciation for both you and this program. I want to thank you and every single champion for having the confidence in me to take on the task of being Unity Game coordinator. When I first given this task I was nervous and very doubtful in my ability to execute the organization it required. I am happy to say that every single unity games exceeded my expectations and even more happy that I stepped outside my comfort zone in taking on this task. You are the best mentor a teacher could have and you have instilled your passion for this program into both myself and every other champion.
Golden Grove Primary/Unity Games Coordinator