By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Getting your kids active at a young age can help contribute to a more healthier life. Dr. Hamman School hopes to assist with this as they bring in a new program to help keep their students active.
“(There are) A number of parents who are keen to have their children become better basketball players, and wondered what they could do to help out because we did run an after school basketball program one day a week, maybe two days a week,” said Christopher Ward, Grade 5 teacher and vice-principal, speaking about their new basketball and small ball programs. “They wanted to know if they could help out and what they could do. In meeting with them we decided, well why not really go for it and offer as much basketball as parents are willing to help out with. It turned out that we had enough parent volunteers to coach basketball for four days a week after school, but also do lunchtime basketball as well.”
With the origins of this program, explained Ward, he immediately went into discussing how the program works, and when it was started.
“We’ve been doing that since December. We have lunchtime basketball, we have after school basketball for Grade 4 and 5. Some of our parents also mentioned that the small ball program that Barnwell School used to run was being run in the mornings on a Friday — because Barnwell School doesn’t have school on a Friday, we have school on Friday. Those parents were wondering could we run a small ball program at Dr. Hamman School for Dr. Hamman kids that are younger than Grade 4 and they would be willing to do it. The principal and I thought we have a gym that’s open after school. We want that gym to be used for helping our students develop their interests and their skills in various sports, and we can make that gym available. Parents are willing to volunteer and coach. We have been running a small ball program on Fridays after school for a couple hours for Grades 1, 2, and 3 students, and that’s been really successful because our parent volunteers have been really helpful and really stepped up to the plate when it comes to being coaches.”
Beyond just running this after school and lunchtime program, Dr. Hamman School was also able to provide a friendly tournament for some of the schools within their area.
“We also ran a jamboree for a Grade 4 and 5 and had students from Taber Christian School, Barnwell School, and Dr. Hamman School just scrimmage against each other with basketball, and that we did on Friday afternoon,” said Ward. “We were able to use Central gym and D.A. Ferguson gym and play crosscourt so we could have four games going at once. That proved really successful for the kids to develop their game skills for basketball and it’s something for them to do outside of school hours which just gets them active, gets them playing with other kids, and gets them enjoying the sports. Are basketball has been really, really successful. The parents from what I understand have enjoyed having their kids do it, our parent coaches have really been fantastic. They really have stepped up. This has been successful purely because of parent volunteers coming in, and helping out.”
Ward also spoke on how this program has not just been a tremendous success with the parents, but with the students as well.
“All told small ball plus Grade 4-5 we have just over 100, 110, 120 kids coming out. That’s almost half the school which is good. We knew it had interest because we have done Grade 4 and red five basketball other years up until now, (but) we hadn’t opened it up to the younger children. That was really nice to see them show interest, but then going in and watching them in the small ball sessions there’s a lot of enthusiasm in there which is great to see. It’s just good to have our gym being available and being used by programs for students after hours. Just extending how much the school is being used because it just seems sad that we have lovely gyms in our buildings that are unused in the evenings when we’re concerned with children spending too much time in front of televisions or computer games or not getting out and moving around or playing enough. We have gyms where we can do some of that. We can try and solve that problem. It’s nice to see parents stepping up and helping us do that.”
Ward then talked about the future of the program and some other aspects they would like to see develop within Taber when it comes to youth school sports.
“I think we would like to do the same again next year,” said Ward. “Basketball is still currently running and talking with our parent volunteers they still want to make it a bit competitive now, and focus on game skills for a while until mid-March. Barnwell has a jamboree in mid-March that we want to go to. I think next year personally I would like to see us try and run the small ball again, run our Grade 4 and 5 after school program again, host some jamborees and involve other schools again. I think that would be a great idea. It would be really nice to have something like a Taber schools sports league or association. Just to try and facilitate Taber elementary schools playing against each other in a semi-competitive kind of league. No kind of league tables or anything like that but just to get younger children playing these games. So that there’s a real enthusiasm for them when they go to middle school and high school.”