Glebe Collegiate gets grant to improve student physical activity

Glebe Collegiate Institute is one of three Ottawa schools that have received a $20,000 provincial grant to improve students’ physical activity.

About 250 schools across the province applied for the grants, which were introduced as a way to support innovative, strategic and sustainable initiatives designed to gets kids moving, according to the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.

France Thibault, principal at Glebe Collegiate, says that the school’s application stood out because of the administration’s consultations with students.

“We consulted with the entire student body through a survey . . .  this is something we had already been working on, and then this grant opportunity came along and so we applied,” says Thibault.

The other two Ottawa schools that received grants are A.Y. Jackson and South Carleton high schools.

At Glebe Collegiate, students listed time as the biggest barrier to living a more active lifestyle, and only 40 per cent of students self-identified as “very active,” according to a school board press release.

“Exercise affects all aspects of our lives, our physical wellbeing but also our mental wellbeing. Life is better when you exercise,” adds Thibault.

Glebe Collegiate will be working with the local YMCA-YWCA, on Argyle Avenue, to improve students’ activity, as well as enhancing the school’s own fitness facility in order to overcome this barrier.

“We teach courses over at the YMCA and so we have a partnership with them. We also are building a relationship with the Glebe Community Council.,” adds Thibault. “They were very keen in coming over and offering before and after school physical fitness courses.”

She says: “These are beginning relationships that we are in the process of putting together, and this grant just made it more meaningful to build on them.”

The school will be using the money from the grant to renovate an area of the building where students can participate in fitness classes, according to Thibault.

“There is a new space we had been preparing in our basement prior to this.  I wasn’t able to afford a new floor for the space but this grant will allow us to put in an appropriate floor for fitness classes,” says Thibault.

“We want to offer a variety of activities. We anticipate there will be yoga, zumba, and weightlifting. This is to appeal to the kids who are not a part of organized sports,” adds Thibault.

It’s expected that the new fitness area will be completed by May, she says.

“We want to instill habits of wellness into our kids and we are very excited about it. We were thrilled to death when we found out.”

According to the school board news release announcing the grants, Glebe plans to improve student activity levels to reach 60 per cent in the “very active” category by June 2015.