4 Cones and Good Attitude by Alyssa Theodore

24 05 2017

Dear my family, friends, Alumni Champions, and supporters,

My name is Alyssa Theodore and I’m going into my final year of my Kinesiology degree and sociology minor. I am a 3rd year champion returning Golden Grove Primary School for the third consecutive year. This program is a collaboration I’m very thankful and grateful every day to be apart of. Thank you to Dr. Sheppard and all past Champions for developing and maintaining such an influential and sustainable program. Each year we experience your impact you’ve had on these students. Seeing the progression of the Champion-Teacher relationships over the last few years at Golden Grove has bloomed into strong collaborations, even with some new teachers being introduced to this program. Along with that the students have embraced us every year with open arms and are more than happy to have us Champions teach them. One boy told me “We love it when you’re here because we have fun, the rest of the year you aren’t here is boring!”. Many questions followed, asking why we can’t stay longer, can we fit in your suitcase, and how much money does it cost to fly to Canada were emphasized from all grades. The significance of our presence from the students is such an indescribable feeling, and it also makes leaving that much more difficult.

These 4 weeks of teaching have flown by with my awesome teaching partners Brianna Mackenzie and Mike Peterson. The best thing about us as a teaching team is our positivity. We always keep a positive frame of mind, even when the class is rough,  there is always something to learn and improve on. As long as the students are smiling and actively learning what the life skill is, that is the most important thing. My first year I was the complete opposite. Perfecting the lesson was more a focus that perfecting the life skill to the students. No experience with students, no comfort zone, no idea what to expect and to be thrown into teaching here was the best thing that has ever happened to me, without a doubt. This year my biggest focus was putting forward a good attitude towards each lesson, and each and every student I encountered. It’s a lot of effort but the enthusiasm and love you receive from the students are beyond worth every ounce of energy and smile. As today was our last teaching day, it will be a struggle for some of us to bring that energy. But as we have the teaching conference tomorrow, I’m sure the things we’ll learn will motivate and empower us heading into Friday as it is our last Unity Games. We will be teaching at Adele School for Special Children and Victory Center, along with one of the biggest schools in the program, T.N. Kirnon. This positive attitude will be essential to sending off the program for another successful year. When students are running around into other games beyond the “limits” of the four cones and all you can do is yell “STAY IN THE CONES!” a few hundred times in hopes of one or two students realizing what that actually means…all that matters is the recall of the life skill from the students during our Check, Connect, and Reflect discussion. Sometimes you don’t need a lot of equipment or preparation, all you need is four cones and a good attitude.

Alyssa Theodore
3rd Year Champion
Golden Grove Primary School

– Thank you and slight shout-out to Cole Young from T.N Kirnon for creating our 2017 motto “4 cones and a good attitude” following the first successful Unity Games!

Antigua will forever be my second home by Harleen Gill

23 05 2017

Dear Friends, Family, Alumni Champions and Supporters,

My name is Harleen Gill and this is my first year in the Champions for Health Promoting Schools Program 2017. I am currently working towards a Bachelors of Kinesiology Degree specifically in the Exercise Science stream. I graduated from high school in 2013 and was admitted into the UFV Bachelors of Science program in the fall of 2013. Three years into my biology major I realized I did not enjoy learning about plants or basically any ecological aspect of biology. After taking basic human anatomy, I had realized that my true passion was learning about the human body. Along with school, I volunteer at the hospital as a Team Leader for my shift. Collectively school and volunteering have helped me to shift gears and work towards my dreams and aspirations to be a Doctor in the near future.

I heard about this program from a friend (Amrit Cheema) who fell in love with the purpose. Personally, I was indecisive in coming down to Antigua for multiple reasons. I have never travelled alone without my family, in particular without my mom, so the idea of living independently was difficult to process. Throughout the four months leading to Antigua, I felt weak, unprepared and overall had low self confidence whether or not I would able to pull myself out of my deep hole known as my comfort zone. Fast forward to April 28th 2017, I was standing at Vancouver International Airport crying hysterically. I had forgotten to meet my dog Tyson before coming, my dad was in India and just seeing the look on my family’s’ faces wanted me to just stay back. However, the emotional outburst was minor in comparison to my thirst for a different perception on life.

I am currently teaching at S.R Olivia David Primary School. There are approximately 130 students at the school from Kindergarten all the way through to Grade  6. I have the pleasure of teaching with my two wonderful partners, Bailee Cuthbert and Christine McGuire. Working with Christine I have been able to learn about classroom management while from Bailee I have learnt about patience and how to interact with younger students. During the first week, I felt that my timing and transitions were off for the lesson plans. However, as we progressed each day I learnt that instead of pressuring myself to complete each and every activity I need to enjoy it with the students. Last week and this week, my lesson plans have been less structured and I am just trying to go with the flow and I am enjoying the classroom as much as I can. In other words, it revolves around the fun aspect rather than being disciplined. I find that the students learn more about the life skills when firstly they can relate and secondly remember it. They are able to recall life skills when they have a memorable event paired with the life skill.

I vividly remember the first day I stepped into the school. I was greeted with many beautiful faces, wanting to know who I was and everything about me. The kids were amazed at my hair, how and why it was so long. That day for the first time in my life I felt loved and wanted by everyone like a celebrity. Three weeks later, I am still showered with many smiles, hugs and laughs each and every day. My mornings truly begin as I cross through the doors of SRO. As soon as I step on the school grounds I am able to act like the 12 year old Harleen who used to play a lot and have a whole lot of fun. I play tag with the students even though I have a bad knee. It’s like I forget all about my pain and real life in general. In the last few weeks some students have been trying to teach me cricket every lunch hour, by giving my the opportunity to play on their teams even though I fail each time. Sometimes I even tell them that I will just watch because I won’t be helpful, but they still insist I play with them. Furthermore, Some students I have grown really close to have been able to open up to me about their personal issues or even school related stress. I find myself to be fortunate to be able to have such a strong position in the lives of the students in which I am able to guide them into the most positive direction possible.

I have been able to create an everlasting bond with my kids and as much as I hate to say this but it’s only making it harder to say goodbye. One of my favourite student’s was hiding his face from me today and wasn’t able to look me in the eye because he was sad I was leaving. He wanted to know if there was any way I could miss my flight and stay in touch with him.

At this point, there is only one more teaching day left and it hurts my heart knowing that tomorrow’s 7 hours are going to be my last 7 hours spent with my kids. This entire week the students have been emotional and closer than ever because they wish to spend each minute they can with Christine, Bailey and myself before we go.

I had a tough time coming here but now I will have a tougher time leaving. I never thought I would connect so easily with the students and it has made me realize
the meaning of love. I have been able to act childish with the students, and remember memories from when I was a child. The students have caused a greater impact on me more than I have impacted them. I am truly grateful to Dr Sheppard for pouring your heart out into this program. Thank you Andy, may you rest in peace. I have never met you but I already know you had a heart of gold to start a program so incredible.

By Harleen Gill
S.R. Olivia David

Sparky Saves the Galaxy by Marissa Corea

23 05 2017

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

My name is Marissa Corea and I am a 2nd year champion of this amazing program. I have just finished my undergraduate degree at the University of the Fraser Valley in Kinesiology, with a major in Pedagogy, and will be walking across the stage on June 7th.  As of this moment, I am still proudly a UFV student, and I find myself putting this blog into times new roman font, size 12, so I am not quite used to the thought of graduation just yet.

This year, I am lucky enough to be placed at my same school from last year, T.N Kirrnon, with Elizabeth Oliva and Cole Young.  This is such a wonderful and unique experience for me because I have transitioned from being terrified and having no experience with children last year, to being in a position where I am there to support my two first time champions (who I must say, are much more equipped and confident than I was). I can confidently say, that they could have done it without me. They are two shinning stars at T.N. who continue to make me better each day that I am around them.

I also have had the pleasure of working as the curriculum coordinator with Arden Holmes, for the champions program. This means I looked over each lesson plan three times pre-departure to ensure each lesson was made with care and intention, (for those of you crunching the numbers at home, this roughly adds up to four hundred and fifty lessons to look over). I know this experience was a challenge for the first year undergraduates, but for myself as well, it seemed like an un-climbable mountain. Now, being here and seeing these lesson plans in action, makes me feel so proud of all the progress we have each made in our roles.

Today, I had the pleasure of seeing one of these lessons in particular in action and seeing all the hard work of the undergraduates fall into place was so amazing. We were working on responsibility and reading a story called, “Sparky Saves the Galaxy”, which is essentially about a Star who uses the power of kindness and how we can be responsible for the words we say, and be there for others who needs us.  Seeing Elizabeth read this story to our classes of grade three students was so captivating. I truly believe she has a flare for story telling, the students had all eyes on her during the entire story. After it was read, Cole introduced the following activity, which was to draw a picture and write a sentence about how you can be more like Sparky in your life. Walking around the classroom to see the things the students came up with just showed me how engaged they were in the story and how much they took it to heart. I saw everything from sharing lunch with someone who forgot his or hers, telling someone that they are beautiful, and even a picture of Sparky in a cowboy hat rounding up all the meanies out there.

Last year, I had a quote about trying 10,000 ways that don’t work, this year I have a different outlook on words such as success and failure, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning” Benjamin Franklin.

I want to thank Dr. Sheppard for allowing me to be a part of this program again, and knowing I wanted to come back, before I even knew.


Marissa Corea

Collaboration at it’s Finest by Alexa Flore

22 05 2017

Dear Family, Friends, Fellow Champions, and Supporters,

My name is Alexa Flore and I am a STAMPER. I am currently enrolled in the Teacher Education Program at The University of the Fraser Valley. I decided to come to Antigua as an extension of my certifying teaching practicum to experience a different culture, new subject matter, and to learn from my Antiguan colleagues.

I have the pleasure of teaching alongside Julia Nord-Leth and Dan Northgraves at Jennings Primary School. Our classes are made up of two kindergartens, two grade 1’s, one grade 2, two grade 3’s, one grade 4, two grade 5’s, and one class of grade 6. Walking into Jennings on the first day I immediately felt welcomed by the principal, the staff, and the students. It is obvious that Jennings strives to become a family and make everyone, whether they are a guest or a part of the school, feel at home.

My favourite part of this trip is not going to the beach as one might expect, but it is being a part of the amazing collaboration that is surrounding this program. I think about collaboration in a few different ways. I came into this trip with a Bachelor of Arts in English and teaching English at a secondary level, in other words I had no idea about teaching Physical Education and Health. Thankfully, I was paired up with amazing teaching partners. Julia, who is only a first year in university, has a sports and dance background that she brings when we teach. My first day out in the field at Jennings, teaching grade 3 PE I was at a lost. I am used to being in the classroom and being able to think on my feet when things go astray. While I am teaching PE, I do not have any past experiences to fall back on, thankfully all I had to do was look to my left and watch Julia. I was quickly able to grab new ideas and implement them in my lesson. Dan, who has been with this program for two years now, brings the wisdom on how to correctly orchestrate the Check, Connect, Reflect (CCR) we complete after every lesson we teach. I only had to watch Dan a few times before I knew exactly what was expected of me. While I have completed my certifying practicum, I am always learning new ideas with the people I teach with. This is a part of my practice I never want to lose, I believe we can learn a lot by watching our colleagues and learning from their teaching practices.

This brings me to my second part of collaboration. I have witnessed first hand the relationships Dr. Sheppard has worked at creating over the years with the schools. At Jennings, I have heard from plenty of teachers that they really appreciate this program and how much they have learned from us and how much their students have learned from our practices. I would like to flip it around and express my appreciation for the teachers at Jennings. I have learned so much about classroom management by just sitting silently in the back of the classroom. The students have the utmost respect for their teachers, and the teachers know exactly what to say in any given situation. I have enjoyed the conversations I have had with the teachers, learning different ways I can get students’ attention and have even received handouts from the kindergarten teachers to assist me in the future.

I cannot believe that I am in my last week. I only have two more days at Jennings, and I feel like I have just started. I am not ready to leave, I have so much to learn from the teachers and students at Jennings, and from my teaching partners. I am so grateful for this program. I have grown immensely in my teaching practices in the 10 days I have been here. I would not trade this experience for anything in the world!

Thank you!

Alexa Flore, Jennings Primary

Wadadli Cat Day

20 05 2017

Hello Everyone,

Today we are off on the Wadadli Cat Catamaran for the day! 

We are back and safe and sound!!! 


This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine by Shalene Sherman

19 05 2017

Dear family, friends, alumni champions, and supporters,

Hello, my name is Shalene Sherman and I am a first year champion. I am graduating from the University of the Fraser Valley with a bachelor of Kinesiology degree this June after going part-time for 8 years. In those 8 years, I scholarshipped for Columbia Bible College as a point guard, and worked as a trainer at Xceed centre with Paul Nicolls where I trained elite hockey players from the Atom age group all the way to the Jr. A Chilliwack Chiefs hockey club. I also was hired by PacificSport Fraser Valley where I started an after school sports and arts initiative within the city of Chilliwack that included 4 inner city schools that worked on developing life skills, fundamental movement skills, and nutritional knowledge. This program went on to win the Premier’s award and was recognized at a conference by DASH B.C with which I was a part of the program development panel. I have also recently become a supervisor and convenor for all of Prospera Centre’s adult hockey programs, learn to skate programs, and summer camp programs. When I return home from this beautiful island I will be starting my career as a Kinesiologist at the Restorative Health centre in Chilliwack.

I first heard about this program in my first year at UFV, when Dr. Joanna Sheppard came to my class and gave a short presentation on the Champions for Health Promoting Schools. Right away I was captivated by this woman. Over the years, I took many of her classes and found inspiration through the way she modelled the various teaching methods that we are focusing on here today. She was as mentor to me right from day one and I feel like I have developed a professional relationship as well as friendship over my years with her. I cannot explain what kind of motivation she has given me to take this giant leap of faith and buckle up for the ride. I am learning quite quickly to live in the moment, be present, and embrace this experience whole-heartedly with open arms. I am teaching at Villa Primary School, along with my second year champion, Kristi Rexhepi. Kristi is an amazing person inside and out with a heart of gold for children. She has taken me under her wing and I honestly could not have asked for a better partner. I think Jo may have known what she was doing when she stuck us two together. Recently, Amy Stafford, a TEP from Canada, has joined our team and made us an unstoppable trio. Villa has been a place where I can say I have grown, both professionally, and personally, along this journey. I have completely fallen for the children here. They are both resilient, gracious, and even though a little blunt and physical at times, they mean the best. I have never created such strong relationships with children and teachers alike so quickly in such a short period of time.

Today was the Unity Games, day number three. For those of you back home that need a quick run down of what that means: think back to elementary school when you had your annual sports day. But in 35 degree heat, 6505 km from home, and with 15 sets of beautiful brown eyes all screaming at you beyond excitement calling out “Tee-cha, tee-cha, tee-cha!!!!” Our champions facilitated both Piggot’s Primary in the morning, and Potters Primary in the afternoon. I taught games that were centred around the life skills of Communication and Conflict Resolution. I had the privilege of working with 6 groups of grade 2’s and 3’s and then 6 groups of grade 4’s and 5’s. The hardest thing for me along this journey has been being away from home and the ones I love there, but I am also falling in love with Villa and the children here. I wish to say, mom, dad, and Travis: You are amazing and have been the biggest support system for me since I was a little girl. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy knowing how stubborn I can be and set in my ways but you always encouraged me to follow my dreams and that’s exactly what I feel I’m doing here. Patrick: Happy 8 months and 1 day handsome! I love you so much and can’t wait to tell you all about those children you wanted me to go inspire. For the rest of my time here on the island, I’m going to do just what the children on the island here have inspired me to do in the prayers they sing every morning: let my little light shine.


-Shalene Sherman, Villa Primary

 Unity Games at Piggotts and Potters!

19 05 2017

Today we are running our 5th and 6th Unity Games at Piggotts and Potters Primary! We were also joined by Lehigh University for some extra help!