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Learners will be introduced to a programme that gets them moving via an ingenious series of games, improving everything from balance, timing and spatial awareness to co-operative teamwork.
SOUNDS of jubilation rose into the cool winter air on Monday 27 June. What was mistaken for children playing was, on further inspection, actually adults shrieking with delight in the schoolyard of Mambo Primary in Chiawelo, Soweto.


Dr Claire NicholsonDr Claire Nicholson digs deep into her blue bagThese adults were teachers from 30 schools around the township, all of whom were undergoing a day-long workshop to enable them to train their pupils in sports and activities. The training formed part of the programme entitled Move-It, Moving Matters, which aims to encourage physical activity in South Africa’s youth.

“The concept is simple,” said Dr Claire Nicholson, creator of the programme. “We are targeting 13-million children at intermediate level (Grades 4 to 7) to build the motor foundations needed for active living. Otherwise it is too late.

“Motor development is at the forefront of education, but in 1999 physical education (PE) was dropped out of the curriculum,” Nicholson said. “Since then, schools have been breeding children who come into the working world with deficits.”

Physical education
A dearth of physical activity leads to numerous problems in later life, including posture and balance. The introduction of Life Orientation as a subject meant that PE re-entered the school curriculum, but a lack of time, trained teachers and resources such as money and equipment meant that it continued to be put on the back-burner.

Move-It, Moving Matters has put physical activity firmly back at the top of the list. “The whole programme is learner-driven. Teachers will only facilitate it,” she said. “The equipment goes straight to the learners, and is not mediated through their teachers.”

It combines a number of competencies, namely balance, locomotion, neuro-motor control, transference of weight, spatial awareness, timing and rhythm, cardiovascular endeavour, hand- and foot-eye coordination and manipulation and competitive and co-operative teamwork.

As an expert in the field of physical education and the previous head of human movement studies/science at the University of the Witwatersrand, Nicholson developed the programme in order to best achieve these competencies.

It was also developed through her involvement as the South African representative at the World Sport Alliance, which is a United Nations partnership initiative to support the Millennium Development Goals of a just, humane and equitable society. “We need to establish a mandate of change using activity for peace and health.

“It is a progressive programme which focuses on balance, locomotion and manipulation, the three things you need for every sport,” she explained. It makes use of four levels in the form of “bags”: a blue bag, red bag, yellow bag and green bag.

The blue bag
Learners in the intermediate phase, for example, make use of the blue bag, which contains equipment such as juggling balls and a mini soccer ball which can be attached around the waist to play a game called “Kiatch-It” (kick and catch it).

TeachersTeachers will be able to give learners special physical training“In the same way that a learner needs a maths set for geometry, so the Movie-It, Moving Matters programme enables the learner to read, discuss and then use the equipment in the bag to experience the actions required,” Nicholson said. “Through repetition, motor skills are acquired and confidence and competence is developed, which promotes experiences of enjoyment through movement.”

In an effort to bring about “footprints of change”, Nicholson explained that the course aims to serve as a mentorship programme. “We will train strong independent schools who will then collaborate with and train children in less advantaged environments to ensure that they can also access the programme.”

Total’s contribution of R1-million for three years has enabled them to penetrate Soweto schools, and the programme will be initiated on the first day of school next term, on 18 July.

Lillian Dimpe, a teacher at Ikemeleng Primary School in Naledi, is confident the programme will make a difference to students. “We as teachers are excited because we have been worried about the condition of the children. They are always sitting in classes; you never see them jumping, skipping, rolling around and just being active and that is what we need to see.”

However, that is not the only benefit she sees in the programme. By receiving training that will enable her to facilitate her learners’ activities, she was able to get active herself. “I am enjoying, and looking forward to starting right away on day one.

“First I need to read through the material and plan for it though, as preparation and planning are very important.”

With teachers and facilitators on side, the programme is set to kick off in style come next school term. “It is possible,” said Nicholson. “It just takes ingenious effort.”

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