SHINE (Students for Health Initiation and Education) is a new program that is being offered exclusively through the Eau Claire YMCA. In it, our grade 6’s are offered the opportunity to learn about exercise and nutrition in an engaging and positive manner. Our program boasts participation with kinesiology and medical students through our partnership with the University of Calgary. Each class focuses on a new type of activity as well as a new topic on nutrition. Together, the YMCA and SHINE help participants to better understand their bodies and what they are capable of. They also learn how to better take care of themselves in a safe environment.
One participant, Winston*, had a particularly invigorating experience with us. During the second SHINE class, Winston came in to program looking upset. He was asked if everything was alright and his response was “Not really. I had a terrible time in gym class today!” Winston was prompted to expand more on the situation. His response was “I can’t do a push up. Everyone made fun of me and said that I wasn’t strong”.
Together, Winston and his instructor made it his goal to be able to do at least five push ups in a row by the time the SHINE program had reached session end. Over the following weeks, Winston was encouraged to develop his arm muscles through several different activities including free weight training, skipping, boxing, and push up practices. By the end of the session, Winston was able to do 7 push ups without breaking and 11 push ups with a 10 second break. On the last day of program, Winston told his instructor “I can’t believe I can actually do that! I remember thinking that I would never be able to do a push up and now I can do so many!”
Winston wasn’t the only one who seemed happy about this improvement either; his mother called to inform his instructor of the change she’d seen in her son. “I am so grateful for everything the YMCA is doing with the SHINE program. Winston comes home every day after SHINE and tells us all of the things he’s learned. He’s also beginning to show his more expressive and confident side. Once after class he came home and showed his dad that he could do a push up and they spent the rest of the night working out together. I’ve seen a big change in him”.
In another instance, Carly*, an 11 year old participant, came to SHINE “without knowing a lot about healthy foods”. Carly’s family had recently moved to Canada; her father had enrolled her in the program with the hopes that she would learn more about eating healthy “Canadian food”. After Carly’s first day of nutrition instruction, she told her leader “I didn’t know that all my favourite foods were junk food; nobody ever told me that too much strawberry ice cream wasn’t very good for you.” Carly set her own goal to report back to her family about what she learned in SHINE and to reduce her sugary food intake by 1 portion per day.
About halfway through the session, Carly came into program and said “I haven’t had any of the ‘Foods to Limit’ today! That means that I can have a cupcake for dessert after dinner tonight.” Carly’s father was also impressed with what she had been learning through SHINE. Through a discussion with Carly’s instructor, he had said “She is eating much less sugar these days and seems to have a lot more energy. She encourages her sisters and brother to eat less sugar too. She even started a chart in the kitchen where everybody tracks their surgery foods so we know how much we are all eating. It’s really helped us to understand what we can eat in Canada that’s healthy and what we should avoid”.
SHINE has been a fun experience for all of our participants and is a great way to get informed and stay active. This spring, we will be offering 11 weeks of our SHINE program to all students between the ages of 10 and 12. Program will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:15-7:15 PM.
If you are interested in registering, you are able to do so either in person or online. Please note that prior to beginning program, all participants are required to have a completed registration form, which can be filled out and returned to Eau Claire Member Services. To download a Registration Form and Parent Package, click here
For more information, please contact Sarah Thornton, Youth Coordinator at 403-781-1685 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
**Names changed for confidentiality
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