Want to be a Champion? Applications now Available!

Are you interested in an International Teaching Study Tour to Antigua, West Indies?
Are you interested in connecting theory to practice?

Then this is an experience for you!


Program Objectives:

The Champions for Health Promoting Schools is a fully student-funded program dedicated to improving the life chances of children and their families within Antigua/Barbuda, West Indies through physical and health education initiatives that:

  • expand opportunities for students to play leadership roles at school and in the community in which they live
  • relate academic learning to care for self, others, and environments that support growth
  • integrate physical and health education within all aspects of the curriculum
  • build bridges between community health projects and school projects eg. safe communities, environmental protection
  • support for the Antigua/Barbuda, West Indies Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth and Gender Affairs in the Implementation of the UNICEF Child Friendly Schools Initiative

2019 Champions Program:

The 2019 Champions for Health Promoting Schools Program in Antigua, West Indies represents the eleventh  year students and faculty from the Kinesiology  and Teacher Education Programs at the  University of the Fraser Valley will be volunteering on the island (14th year of the program). Working side by side with local educators, the students will be promoting  physical and health education in innovative and effective ways to enrich the quality of teaching and learning in classrooms as well as in the field.

Antigua Ministry of Education Collaboration

The students are joined by program leader, Dr. Joanna Sheppard who directly corresponds with the Ministry of Education including the Honourable Dr. Michael Browne, the Director of Education Mr. Brown  and Educational Zone Officers.

Community Involvement

Students from the University of the Fraser Valley are immersed in teaching and promotion of Life Skills Learning through various unique activities. This  year the UFV team will volunteering at the 8th Annual Sir Reginald Samuel Track and Field Meet, as well as the Antigua Youth Basketball Program.

In Class Teaching

Through physical and health education  classes, over 2500 students are directly exposed to various health dimensions which not only provide information about how students can live a healthy lifestyle but also how their family, friends and other members of the community can follow in these same footsteps. Topics range from physical literacy through movement education and teaching games for understanding, to life skills around cooperation, teamwork, communication, bullying, decision making, hygiene management and nutrition.

Unity Games

Over 2500 students are actively involved in the UFV Unity Games, school run activity days surrounding the 5 dimensions of health (social, physical, intellectual, environmental and emotional well-being). Through child centred games (physical, cognitive and emotional domains), students enhanced their understanding of how to live a healthy life. The Unity Games are attended by principals, teachers, parents and members of the community.

Long Term Directives

  • Support Mr. Rolston Nickeo in the data collection and management of the CFS initiative (Quantitative Data Collection and Qualitative Case Studies)
  • Provide Antigua curriculum based lesson plans and resources to support CFS and Life Skills Development
  • Dedicated work shop and professional development days toward CFS initiative and Life Skills Teaching
  • Provide dedicated undergraduate and teacher candidate student volunteers every year (month of May) to promote the CFS and Life Skills Teaching Initiative

Our 2019 Champions team will arrive on island April 27, 2019 to begin a four week International teaching experience within 10 primary schools and 2 Secondary Schools in Antigua, West Indies. Alongside our Antiguan colleagues, our Champions will be teaching the importance of life skills through Physical and Health Education.

If you are interested in this educational journey please click the links below to find the application for and fees connected to this study tour.

Antigua Application 2019 for Undergraduate Students

Antigua International Teaching Experience Study Tour 2019

Care for self, Care for others, care for the Environment
Champions on two….one, two, CHAMPIONS!
Dr. Joanna Sheppard

A Final Farewell from Antigua by Dr. Joanna Sheppard

Dear Champions, Family, Alumni Champions and Friends of the Champions Program,

As I wake up to prepare to take our Champions to the airport,  I can only thank you all for your dedication and support towards the 2018 Champions Program.

It has been many months of planning, preparing and organizing, and I want to thank each and every one of you for being with me every step of the way.

Thank you to all of you who donated your time, resources and financial contributions to the Champions Program. Without your support, this program would not be so successful.

To my colleagues and friends in Antigua, thank you once again for welcoming my students into your schools with open arms. I know the experiences they had will last a lifetime!

I would also like to thank the Faculty of Health Sciences Dean and now UFV President Dr. Joanne Mac Lean for her continued support for our program, as well as KIN Professor Brian Justin for his Fifth annual Coaches and Athletes Certificate Program and collegial support. A special thank you to Eleanor and Bryan Busse Klassen for their support throughout the month! I have never eaten so well!!!

I would also like to thank our UFV Teacher Education Department, but more specifically Dr. Awneet Sivia for dedicating her time to sustaining this impactful collaboration  And last but not least, a big  thank you to my 2018 Teaching Assistant Dan Northgraves for your steadfast, dedicated passion for this program throughout the entire year.

So family and friends, thank you for allowing me to be a part of each of your children’s/friend’s lives. I have watched them grow from students to successful young professionals that I am very proud of.  I look forward to watching many of my students walk the convocation stage this coming June as well as guiding those still at UFV towards their goals and aspirations.

Champions on two…..one…two….CHAMPIONS!!!


Joanna/Momma Jo



When it rains it pours and we play indoors! by Jaclyn McNicol

Dear Friends, Family and Colleagues,

My name is Jaclyn McNicol and this is my second year in the Champions program. This program has either taught or enhanced my abilities in leadership, teamwork, patience, creativity, knowledge, collaboration and personal awareness. I am so thankful that Dr. Joanna Sheppard was the first face at the University of the Fraser Valley I met and one that has helped me grow on a personal and professional level.

This year I got to go back to Mary E. Pigotts Primary with Carlin Klettke. It was a pleasure to see her grow as a teacher and own her skills. My time spent at Mary E. Pigotts has been an amazing collaboration with students and teachers as my connections with the school continued to grow through out the month. On the third week I attended the Antigua All Girls Secondary school for 4 days of teaching Physical Education with our Stamper Libby. For the first time I was able to stand in a secondary classroom and know that is where I am suppose to be. It was an enriching experience and collaboration that I hope continues in the future.

My role as a second year was not only teaching and support but as Unity games coordinator with Cole Young. We can both agree at first we were wondering how it would work with two leaders but THANK YOU JO! It has been a team effort that I would never take for granted. On the very first Friday morning, it was pouring rain, so we played in side. It has not rained in four years on this day. Someway somehow the team pulled it together. Cole and I walked past the classrooms filled with laughter and life skills. The second and third Fridays… it rained and we played!

We call Unity games day organized chaos and it holds true for either rain or shine. Today on the last day, it was hot and sunny all day. Today we went to Adele and Victory joined us, Pigotts primary and TN Kirnon. It was a day full of laughter, new experiences, tears, and life skills. The most special part about this years Unity games and having two leaders is that we were able to go to every school that is in the program. Unity games is an important aspect of this program as all the students remember this day the most when all the Canadian teachers come to their schools to play.

As I continue to grow and learn as a teacher I will always know where I found my passion and it will hold a place in my heart. I will strive to connect, be creative, guide and continue to learn my craft to help students be the best they can be. Who knows what the future holds but thank you Jo for allowing me to join the experiential learning train, let go, and be here.

Jaclyn McNicol

Unity Games Coordinator


The Last Drive by Krystal Appledoorn

Dear Friends, Family and Followers;

My name is Krystal Appeldoorn and I am a Kinesiology student at the University of the Fraser Valley. I applied up for the Champions for Health program because I have always had a passion for teaching, and this program would allow me to further explore my passion under the influence of a different culture. Little did I know that this experience would teach me so much more than the culture itself.

Today was my last day at Golden Grove Primary School, which is a day that I will never forget. I have experienced many challenges throughout this past month, but none greater than the challenges that I was faced with today. My day started like any other, I drank my coffee, hopped into the car and took a final drive down the road to Golden Grove. A usual 20-minute drive which felt more like an hour. After arriving at the school, I was greeted by many students who were running up to me, smiling and giving me the biggest hugs you could ever imagine. By this time I was already crying… but after a quick pep talk with myself I decided that I was going to make the absolute most of my last day with the students. After shaking off my emotions I packed up the equipment and made one last trek out to the playing field. The life skill that I was teaching during my lesson plans today focused on respect. My grade one class was difficult as usual, but I managed to keep calm despite the disorganization. Over the past month I have learnt so many things such as resilience within organized chaos, which I am proud to say is now a skill of mine.  Though each class was difficult to teach just knowing that it would be my last, I managed to continue to stay focused and energized throughout the remainder of the day. I’ve spent the past month trying to find a healthy balance between having fun while still remembering that I am here for professional reasons. I’ve spent hours diving into the meaning of each life skill so that maybe…just maybe, my students would be able to further connect to each skill on a more personal level. Next time my students are in an argument I hope they will be able to think back to our lessons together and remember respect. And maybe next time my students are struggling they will remember to take a breath and be patient. After leaving Golden Grove today I am able to continue on knowing that I have taught these students the life skills, which they will be able to carry on throughout their future days and years.

The courses which I have taken at the University of the Fraser Valley have given me the knowledge and confidence to be successful within my teaching practice both in the classroom and on the field. Studying Kinesiology has taught me not only how to utilize every aspect of the human body, but also how to help others live a healthier life. I am grateful that UFV provided me with the strength, aiding to my own person growth but also for the knowledge to help others grow. Dr. Joanna Sheppard has given me the confidence and direction I have needed for my future career path. I am appreciative of the work she has done to give me the most perfect month, that I will remember in my heart forever.

I am excited to close my experience with Unity Games at Adele, Victory, Piggott’s and T.N. Kirnon Primary Schools tomorrow.  I appreciate the experience I was able to have at not only Golden Grove but also other Primary Schools on the Island, which are all an equally amazing part of this program. Though I spent most of my time at Golden Grove I was able to build connection with many students throughout Antigua. I am honoured to have experienced such support, love and guidance from my colleagues and the champions team.

Krystal Appeldoorn,
Golden Grove Primary School


Loggerhead Turtle by Jas Braich

Dear Friends, Family and Followers;

My name is Jas Braich and I am a fourth year student at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) and will graduate with a Kinesiology major and Psychology minor. I have taken joy in every experience UFV has offered to me, from taking each course and being able to be a part of the Cascade Athletics Rugby program. During the Champions for Health Program in Antigua I have been lucky enough to be placed at Potter’s Primary.

The name of my blog represents an activity I came up with when making my lesson plans in regards to teamwork. Prior to making this lesson I took the time to google native animals in Antigua and the Loggerhead Turtle popped up, which is where I got the name for my activity from. After using my lesson plan I quickly learned that no one knew what the Loggerhead Turtle was… SURPISE the internet isn’t always right. Being here I have learned so much from these students and teachers that the internet couldn’t come close to enlightening me on.

I truly believe that no matter where life takes you and whatever profession one ends up in, teaching is always going to co-exist. That being said I really appreciate how this course has equipped me with knowledge of how to deal with primary schools students through experiential learning. This experience has provided me with a great introduction to what being a competent physical education specialist entails. Going through the motions from week one all the way to this last week has been an enriching experience in the sense of constantly expanding my comfort zone. I’ve always loved the saying “be a badass” and not in a rebellious type of way, but in terms of self-confidence. Going into the third week of this experience I was finally able to say I felt like a badass. My confidence within my teaching abilities continues to grow as the weeks go on.

Now it is our last week and my second last day with the students, this feeling is honestly bittersweet. My goal going into this week is to leave all my best-self with the kids. Today I pushed my own boundaries by asking one of the teachers if their grade 5 class was able to join the other grade 5 class for PE, as we haven’t had the opportunity to teach them prior to today. I was very glad that I went out of my comfort zone to collaborate with this teacher because it turned out to be a positive experience for everyone involved (the teacher, the students and us).

A story I want to share with all of you today involves a grade 3 girl named Akira. This morning she approached me with her “magic” marble, allowing me to make 3 wishes. My wish for today was to have the best day ever, followed by turning back time so I would be able to have more time with the students. My last wish was for Akira to always remember me and our experiences together, which she personally told me “I will always REMEMBER you teacher Jas”. Akira helped grant my first wish by following me around at lunch to ensure that today was going to be the best day ever. But how can I not have the best day when these are the children I am surrounded by.

I have appreciated that Dr. Joanna Sheppard has given me the chance to paint my own picture of what learning should look like. I am thankful for all the relationships that I have created throughout this experience, including those with the Champions team and my fellow colleagues/students at Potter’s Primary. I know forming these connections with the students and teachers has left its mark on me, and I hope this feeling is mutually reciprocated on their end of this life changing experience. This has honestly been the most thrilling opportunity which has allowed me to become better versed in the importance of teaching Physical Literacy through life skills to students.

A quote I want to leave with everyone is:

  • “The truth is that you learn more from the things you love than the things you hate. From the broken things than the perfect ones. From the things that move on than the things that stay. And, you will discover more from the very last goodbye than you ever will from the first hello.” – The Wanderer

Jas Braich
Potters Primary



Bitter Sweet- By Jennifer Cooper

Hello family, friends, and followers of my fellow Champions,

For those of you who do not know who I am, my name is Jennifer Cooper, and this is my first year in the Champions for Health Promoting Schools Program. I am in the Bachelor of Arts program at UFV, with a major of Geography, and a minor of Kinesiology. I was so excited to come here to put my passion for teaching at work, and learn as much as possible, since my end goal is to be an elementary school teacher. Thanks to this program, I have learned how to teach physical education and health through life skills, alongside my fellow champions and teachers here in Antigua. I am currently teaching at S.R. Olivia David Primary, with my teaching partner Cassidy King.

This journey as been undoubtedly incomparable to any other experience I’ve ever had with children. Every skill and sense has been put to the test and pushed to the limits, while positivily impacting these students. Every day has a new experience, different lessons, and life skills to teach that makes everyday special and exciting. All the students are just as excited and eager as we are to teach them and show them we have in store for them every single day.

Today was the start of my last week at S.R. Olivia, and the students are already making me cards, giving me big hugs, and enjoying every minute we have together. I had luckily got a chance to also teach at Jennings Primary School on Tuesday mornings, and we already had to say some goodbyes to those students and teachers. I’m having so many mixed feelings and emotions on this last week in Antigua. My heart feels heavy knowing that I may never again get to see these students and teachers that I have gotten to know and love so much. I will miss every student, teacher, friend, teaching partner and roommate from this program, but I will never forget. On the other hand, I am quite excited to see my loved ones and my cat at home in Canada, as well as share my experience with them all. I don’t think I can thank Dr. Joanna Sheppard enough, for the school experience, island experience, and the connections with my fellow champions.

S.R. Olivia has many quotes along their school walls, but the one I like the most and applies to my experience is “mistakes are proof that you are trying.” Each and every day I have found a new opportunity to better my teaching skills for myself, and for my students.

I’ll end with the words of Scarlet Witch from the new Avengers movie, “Everyone’s story begins ‘once upon a time’ – it’s up to us to cherish the time we’re given to ensure we live happily ever after”

Jennifer Cooper
S.R. Olivia

A Growth Mindset by Carlin Klettke

Hello friends, family, and supporters of the Champions,

My name is Carlin Klettke, and I am a 1st year student of the Champions program.  I have attended the University of the Fraser Valley for the past four years, studying Kinesiology with a focus in Exercise Science as well as Psychology. When Dan asked the champions at a red couch meeting how we have prepared for this trip, I reflected on how, even despite not being in the Pedagogy field, my education has equipped me. This thought immediately brought me back to Carl Neinhuis’ KPE 366 Class, Applied Counselling for Fitness Professionals, where we were taught the value of experiential learning, along with efficient methods to help, listen, and understand those with whom we are connecting. Not only this, but my kinesiology professors, like Alastair Hodges, Brian Justin, and Amber Johnston have themselves modeled a passion and energy for teaching and for impacting the lives of their students. Although I came to the island with some first year jitters, I knew my education had been leading me to this experience.

This is the beginning of our last week on island.  If I had no calendar, I honestly wouldn’t be able to say if I have been here for a couple days or for a couple months! In this time, I have been blessed to work with many knowledgeable teachers, including our own second year champion, Jaclyn McNicol, alumni Jenelle MacDonald, and Stamper Kam Taylor. These teachers have pushed me to grow in my teaching and in my ability to connect with the students, encouraging me to bring the energy while opening my eyes to all of the little things that make any teacher exceptional. Through working with these individuals, I’ve learned to push aside my pride and to adapt a mindset focused on growth by learning from other educators through observation and discussion.  I look forward to maintaining this attitude in Canada and continuing to reflect on all of the things I’ve learned!

As promised, this program has been chalk full of surprises and learning curves. We have been discovering how to collaborate with other teachers, while being met with endless smiles from students; we’re figuring out how to work past our own frustrations in order to be present for the students, while making new connections with fellow champions and Antiguans of all ages. Despite having learned so many things that it almost becomes blurry, most moments remain crystal clear. The first time walking up to the school and being so warmly met by students and teachers, the first time we’ve felt that one on one connection with a student where we can almost see the understanding forming in their mind, the first time we experienced homesickness or frustration and fellow champions lifted us up, inspiring us forward; this experience, if it can be explained at all, is a collection of those heart melting moments that are simply unforgettable.

Luckily for us, Dr. Joanna Sheppard is using her knowledge of this stunning country to take our minds off of the time we are yearning to have with our students on this Whit Monday, a national Antiguan holiday. Our day started off bright and early at 5:30am, where our Champions were both participating and volunteering at a road race and relay. Stationed at checkpoints, our champions gave out encouragement and refreshments, cheering on our friends and the Antiguans speeding by.  Next up was “Mojo’s Magical Island Tour,” which surprised me not only in the beautiful sights that we saw, but the bonding experience that it allowed for with our fellow champions.  We were able to see the Devils Bridge, rich with history; we splashed in the waves of Half Moon Bay, and visited an ecological site where we observed how the island has changed over the last few years. As incredible as the beaches were, and while the historic sights were hauntingly beautiful, what I will take away from this day are the connections made between all those experiencing this program together.  Thank you to Dr. Joanna Sheppard and all of my fellow champions for making this experience truly unforgettable!

With a full heart and happy tears,

Carlin Klettke,
Mary E. Pigotts