Third Times the Charm by Rochelle Smith

20 05 2016

Dear Family, Friends, and Followers of the Champions for Health Promoting Schools Program,

Today marks the final day of the Champions for Health Promoting Schools program in Antigua. At this point you, our avid readers, know what our program is all about. So let me begin with saying THANK YOU! Thank you to everyone who have followed, and supported the Champions program. Thank you for your time, donations, thoughts and well-wishes.

This is my third year as a member of the Champions program, and although I am not convinced that this will be my last year I also do not know when I will be back. I truly believe that this program is creating an important collaboration among all teachers involved including myself. In addition, the impact the Antiguan schools, staffs, and students have on the Champions is unbelieveable, as they bring out the best in all the Champions involved. I am so blessed to have been a part of this program for the past three years, and I look forward to the future of the Champions for Health Promoting Schools team.

Today was a long and busy day for the Champions, as we had two Unity Games to run. We began our day at Adele School for Special Children, for a mini track and field meet. There were 5 stations that the students rotated through, each station worked on a variety of fundamental movements.The mini track meet concluded with dancing in a classroom and an award ceremony. The Champions attempted to dance, and of course were out performed by the students at Adele. Even though I have only been to Adele for Unity Games the past three years, I was so impressed with the growth each and every student has made. Everywhere I looked today I saw big smiling faces and physically active students, mixed with equally smiling and profusely sweating Champions. Adele, as always, was an amazing experience. The students  are so full of life, and energy that it is difficult to feel exhausted, despite the heat. The atmosphere at Adele is like no other school I have been to. I can easily say that all of the Champions left Adele with an excitement that I have yet to see on this trip.

After lunch we made our way to T.N. Kirnon Primary School, where I have been working alongside Blair Cumming and Marissa Corea for the past four weeks. I must admit that when I was first told I was going to a new school this year I was hesitant. In a way, I felt no school could ever compare with Five Island Primary where I had taught the past two years. However, I could not have been more wrong, I was meant to be at T.N. Kirnon Primary School this year. Yes, the students are phenomenal, but even more so are the teachers, who allowed us to be a part of their classrooms, and their students’ lives. Thank you all staff members at T.N. Kirnon for making us feel welcome, for lending us your students, and for providing us with new knowledge and feedback. A special thanks goes out to Principle Barrarow, who has made T.N. Kirnon feel like a second home, as well as provided us with an opportunity to pursue our passions.

T.N. Kirnon is a large school with just around 300 students. This meant that unity games was a large and complicated process. With everything that could go wrong, it went amazingly. The students were on their best behaviour and were so excited to see that their teachers had brought even more Canadian friends to play. I am so proud of the Champions team, who brought their absolute best for our final unity games. Every student I saw, was smiling, active, and beyond ecstatic to be a part of the program. As for every Champion, I could see their passion and enthusiasm in every game. After what felt like a thousand goodbyes, and hugs from both staff and students, I begrudgingly got into the car. This is always the hardest part of the trip, saying goodbye for now, and leaving the island.

Although I am not ready to say goodbye to the island, I feel like the Champions team this year has impacted Antigua in ways we will never know or see. Even more so, are the impacts that this island has had on every member of the Champions for Health Promoting Schools team. I am returning home with a restored passion for teaching, learning and inspiring students to be physically active. Thank you Dr. Joanna Sheppard for creating a program that has changed my life, along with so many others.


Rochelle Smith

Teacher at T.N. Kirnon Primary, 3rd Year Champion, and Curriculum Coordinator




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