ACTIVITIES FOR THROUGHOUT THE SCHOOL YEAR
By Vejay Steede
The pitfalls of a rigid academic curriculum are many. While intellectual development is unquestionably important, and should naturally be a focus of academic study, there’s no guarantee that intense academic training will produce a well-rounded, productive, and socially well-adjusted individual.
This is why, in a nutshell, rich and abundant extracurricular activity is a vital component of a holistic approach to education in the twenty-first century.
Mr Paynter, P.E. Teacher and M3 Leader at Clearwater Middle School, notes that: “Fundamentally, extracurricular activities allow kids to learn something that will be with them for a lifetime. Directly, that skill could be the basis of a hobby or passion that enriches their life for many years.
“Some of the benefits are: 1. Learning new skills, 2. Boosting academic performance 3. Developing broader social skills 4. Improving time management, and, 5. Improving a resume (these are the skills that provide continued benefits long after their education is completed).”
In Bermuda, sports are an excellent source of extracurricular activity; a deep, opulent reservoir that ranges from archery, to parkour, to motocross. Perhaps the most popular sporting focus for school-aged boys and girls is football. Football programs run at clubs across the island from September to March every year, making them perfect complements to any student’s educational experience.
A representative of St. George’s Cricket Club (SGCC) broke down some of the finer details of their youth football programs for the upcoming season for us:
“Our goal is to provide age groups from Under 5s up to Under 17s. Realistically this season we will have Under 5s, Under 7s, Under 9s, and possibly Under 11s”
“We will run Mondays to Fridays. We are in the process of finalizing team training days and times to correspond with coaches’ availability.”
Most club football programs are linked with the Bermuda Football Association (BFA) league and play competitive games on Saturdays.
Former standout player Karl Roberts is the SGCC Technical Director for this upcoming season, and they will have fully qualified coaches to expertly oversee the development of each age group mentioned above.
The cost of the full program is $350 for the entire football season, which represents an amazing value considering the time and attention that will go into developing skills, discipline, and social awareness in students who attend.
Turning to an activity that traditionally attracts more school-aged girls than boys, the Bermuda Gymnastics Association (BGA) offers several age-group centred programs that run throughout the school year, and certainly help to develop amazing athletic skills and discipline in students.
With locations at Saltus gymnasium (only Saturday) and their St David’s location (Monday to Sunday), the BGA is relatively accessible for interested students across the island. The full-time coaching staff at the BGA includes: Brian Le Roux (Head Coach), Ana Balada (Assistant Head Coach / Senior Coach), Almas Harris (Senior Coach), and Pilar Sanchez (Recreational Coordinator / Senior Coach).
On how gymnastics can enhance the educational experience for school aged children, Ms Sanchez asserts:
“Extracurricular activities strengthen the educational process of children and young adults in a more individualized manner than that of traditional academic programs.
“Gymnastics, in particular, does not only promote joint flexibility, improve balance and coordination, and increase overall strength, it enhances motor skills that form the basis of all other sports.
“Gymnastics teaches invaluable life talents such as listening and problem- solving abilities, teamwork, communication skills, and discipline whilst boosting confidence and providing the opportunity for social interaction. This diverse and exciting sport produces courageous, critical thinkers who inevitably excel in the classroom.”
There are other gymnastics programs available on island, but BGA is the only organization currently offering a Parkour program. Students who develop well through the available programs can be selected to represent the BGA as a member of the women’s competitive team or the boys’ competitive team.
BGA programs range in cost from $360 to $449. For more information on programs, space availability, and costs, email the BGA at [email protected] or [email protected]. If you already know you want to get involved, then go ahead and register at www.bermudagymnastics.bm.
Another wonderful local resource for extracurricular activity is the After School Program (ASP), which is widely available across the island (12 locations). Run by the Department of Youth, Sport, and Recreation, the ASP offers a wide range of character developing activities that greatly enhance the social growth of school-aged children in positive ways.
The ASP Senior Supervisor, Ms Kerri-Lynne Bridgewater is responsible for operations and Mrs Nadine Henry oversees the entire program as the Senior Youth Services Development Officer.
The ASP runs Monday to Friday from 3:30pm to 6:00pm (excluding holidays and midterm camps). The ASP is grounded in the six pillars of Character Counts (https://charactercounts.org/), and offers various activities ranging from art, STEM, and recreation to sports.
Featured programming like homework club, gaming, crafts, jump rope club, and youth yoga classes, the ASP is a virtual treasure trove of extracurricular activity and encore development.
The ASP is offered at a very affordable price and uses a voucher system. Vouchers can be purchased at local Government Post Offices for $30.00, which is the cost per child for one week; so, this awesome program costs roughly $120 a month, which is ridiculously economical. Registration is online at https://aspbermuda.org/, and spaces are limited.
Each ASP site uses a maximum 12:1 student to ASP worker ratio. The program accepts all primary school level children and middle school children as well; ages can vary between 4 years old and 14 years old.
Finally, and vitally, all ASP staff are CPR trained and SCARS certified. There are, of course, a plethora of other popular extracurricular programs available across the island.
Traditional interests like Brownies, sailing, and martial arts classes still enjoy a strong following, while youth tee-ball, baseball, motocross, and archery continue to gain momentum.
United Dance Productions, In Motion School of Dance, and the Jacksons School of Performing Arts continue to provide great enrichment for creative movers, while the Bermuda School of Music offers quality practical music instruction.
Of course, it’s fitting to close with a culturally uplifting discipline that very few would even think of as an extracurricular activity for children; Gombeys!