On the 12th of each month, a bunch of bloggers from around the world take 12 pictures throughout the day.  Here are my pictures for November 12th, 2011!

November is the time of year for my church’s annual youth retreat to a bible camp about two hours outside of the city.  I fall under the interesting category of “inclusion leader”, so I was one-on-one with a seventh grader [hereafter known as “the girlie”].  We met for the first time at last year’s retreat, but I also went to camp with her in the summer, so the two nights were a piece of cake and super fun!


12:21 am – cabin room. The girlie is asleep on the top bunk, the bottom is mine [I moved on night two though, since the girlie and I had the room to ourselves!]


7:50 am – cabin. One of those days — winter + my asthma = out for me.  Giving the girlie a few more minutes to sleep before waking her up a little before our 8 am wake-up time [since I know it will take her at least five minutes to actually get out of bed!]


8:21 am – outside. Yeah, that’s what you want to see right when you get up.


9:52 am – chapel. OH MY GOODNESS. ELISA AND I MATCH!! :]  COORDINATED LEADERNESS!  [Also, if you need an interior designer and you live near me, please hire her so she does not have to go back to Vancouver, as I will miss her if she does!]


9:57 am – chapel. The grossest youth game ever.  In which an onion was passed like a hot potato, and participants had to take a bite of the onion when it stopped on them, or they had to sit down. Disgusting.


1:40 pm – on the rocks. “Creation reveals Your majesty — from the colours of fall to the fragrance of spring, every creature unique in the song that it sings . . ” —Indescribable, Chris Tomlin


3:12 – dining hall. Yeah, I can play Apples to Apples and Sorry! at the same time.  No big deal.  [Also, yet another 12 where I’m playing Apples to Apples!]


3:57 pm – dining hall. The official design of the youth retreat.  Our church’s graphic designer is super talented and amazing!


4:32 pm – cabin. Ready for the Awards Dinner.  This is my semi-rockstar outfit.  Because I don’t do formal.  The girls all looked amazing and all took like an hour and a half to get ready, it was super adorable.


5:46 pm – dining hall. And the dinner prayer went “God, thank You for pizza.  Amen.”. [Probably some other stuff, too, but mostly it was about the pizza.]  Veggie pizza — I made a new vegetarian friend on the retreat, we met at a workshop on haters and some guy in his small group was jokingly making fun of him for not eating ribs, and he and I exchanged several high fives over how tofu sucks.


10:23 pm – cabin. The girlie and I came back from chapel [way] early as she was just totally wiped out.  She fell asleep around 9:30, so I had like two-plus hours before I went to bed by myself.  So, i tweeted of my boredom, and Bob came to the rescue! :]


10:46 pm – cabin. Since the girlie was asleep and I couldn’t leave for snack, the lovely Elisa brought me cookies back! <3  Camp makes super good cookies, these ones were white chocolate, Friday night’s were chocolate chunk.

12 of 12 was created by Chad Darnell.  Check out his blog to see a list of all September 12 of 12s.  Thanks, Chad, for dreaming up this awesome idea to connect people around the world, and for allowing us to infiltrate your blog space for another year!

i can’t forget you

but i can’t remember . . .

turn my head, live

A day to remember those who made sacrifices for this country to be free.  Those who sacrificed being with their families, their time and ultimately, their lives.

I can’t remember. I can’t pretend to understand the horrors of fighting for the rights of your country, of sacrificing everything.  But it’s because of these very people who understood their own sacrifice that I am free to write this.

And I can’t forget them.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13


BiG blue test

The Diabetes Hands Foundation is an amazing organization that provides support in a variety of facets to people living with diabetes of all types.  The DHF provides not only networking and thus emotional and instrumental support to people with diabetes, but also opportunities for advocacy, awareness building and getting insulin and diabetes management supplies to people who need them.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.  With World Diabetes Day rounding the corner on November 14th, the Diabetes Hands Foundation’s Big Blue Test project is in full swing, underscoring the importance of living an active life with or without diabetes — regardless of if you have Type 1, Type 2, LADA, another type of diabetes, or NO diabetes!

Here’s how YOU can get involved!

Click HERE to go to bigbluetest.org!

  • If you don’t have diabetes, select the type of exercise you did and submit.  You’re done!  Repeat this every time you exercise between now and November 14th!
  • If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar level, exercise, and check again!  Feed your numbers and type of exercise in, and submit with a diabetic rockstar smile!  Anddd repeat!

So what are you waiting for — it’s your turn and will only take a few seconds of your time!  Help yourself by getting active, help others receive insulin and diabetes management supplies.  It’s all win!

Kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  Every day.

It sounds like a lot, and that’s because it is.  I’m fortunate enough that I’m in a position where 1) I learn about the impact of physical activity on people of all ages on a pretty much daily basis, 2) work in an atmosphere that allows me to apply this knowledge directly to the kids in our program and 3) I can, in a small way, contribute to helping kids and their families meet this total.

Here’s the thing though: resources aren’t available to make quality physical activity programming in childcare accessible to all programs.

When i started my current job, my boss and coworkers were excited that I actually like gym games.  It’s basically my thing at work.  I love it.

I’d like to say to start: yes, our kids still play sports. I think that sports are valuable for kids to learn, to play, and contribute to long-term athlete development and being active for life beyond what gym games do.  But I also believe that non-sport physical activity can play a huge role in getting kids active for the simple reason that it is just fun.  Some kids, even as young as five, get serious about sports.  Because even when kids are little, they know what competition is.  There are kids who are young who get onto a field or a rink and are just little natural all-around athletes.  They’ll make the good passes, score the goals, and be that kid that everybody’s looking at and talking about positively.  When competition comes into play, these kids will thrive on it.  In turn, though, this can make kids feel that maybe because they aren’t natural athletes and aren’t that kid that they shouldn’t bother. It’s cyclic. That kid who’s always picked last decides they shouldn’t bother trying, they stand around on the field, sit around picking daisies and grow up fighting PE teachers trying to stay on the bleachers.  And if such behaviour isn’t modified, that same kid can grow up to face a number of health concerns due to inactivity.

I was that kid.  That kid who hated PE, and didn’t start liking physical activity until I took dance in my last semester of high school.  Because of that, I’ve hit a proficiency barrier in many fundamental skills that I just didn’t get during developmental PE in elementary and middle school.  So these kids that don’t like sports or just aren’t as proficient in the skills?  I feel for them, big time.

So I organize/facilitate our Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday morning physical activity component at our program.  It’s optional.  Monday is usually floor hockey, and I have no idea what they do Fridays.  I plan four gym games per month, but I play a lot more of them.  On a soccer morning, I’ll have probably ten or eleven kids.  On a FUN game day, perhaps Ollie Ollie Octopus or dodgeball [yes, we play dodgeball. I hated it, but the kids LOVE it, and it teaches a ton of valuable skills–running, throwing, dodging, agility, catching, etc–so I submit to the “Miss Kerriiiiiii, can we play dodgeballlll?” and let them play.  Gatorballs and typically below-the-waist hits only.  No injuries as of yet, it’s a good time], which are our more popular choices, I’ll have up to seventeen or eighteen.  On tag game day last week we had eighteen.  Seven more kids is huge.  We have usually about 24 to 30 kids in the mornings, so we get a big chunk of them moving first thing in the morning–engaged body, engaged brain.  While not every kid comes every day, I can’t pinpoint too many kids who never come.

The thing is, I’ve taken classes on teaching kids physical activity, and I’ve taken courses on making physical activity more fun for ALL kids.  I’ve learned where to find physical activity resources. From what I’ve experienced, this isn’t common knowledge among childcare staff, because that’s not where their focus typically lies. Additionally, many childcare staff do not have education in childcare.  I started working at a daycare [not the one I’m at now] less than a month after I turned eighteen with nothing but high school Family Studies classes behind me.  They either come straight out of high school, or from a variety of other professions.  That said, the people running programs are certified Early Childhood Educators, and thus create a program centred around that knowledge.  We’re required to offer specific amounts of outdoor play per day, but I’m not sure if there are regulations requiring active play to be a part of the day.  Keep in mind, too, that the bulk of resources are for phys ed teachers.  The very last thing I want is for morning gym games to feel like PE–for the kids who aren’t good at PE or who don’t want anything to remind them of school when they’re not in school, I try to keep a clear barrier.  That means lots of pick-up games and games with minimal instruction so that they can play and not sit and listen.

As for programming, think about this: a school-aged daycare at any given point typically provides programming for kids five to twelve years old.  Then wrap your mind around providing developmentally appropriate physical activity programming for that group, that encompasses a variety of opportunities for increasing a child’s physical literacy, as well as providing opportunity for cognitive and affective growth through physical activity.  Fortunately, physical, affective and cognitive development can be incorporated into a child’s day through active games — pretty much any game that requires a child’s body and mind to be engaged simultaneously [read: pretty much any physically active game] will provide opportunities for all of these to occur.  However, there is a huge difference in all domains between a five year old and a ten year old, and a seven year old and a twelve year old.  This makes finding games that this wide of an age-range will enjoy difficult.

Unfortunately, the barrier keeps growing in providing quality daily physical activity in programs — there aren’t enough resources available to early childhood educators or early childhood educator assistants (like myself).  Resources are either very difficult to find (even online), or they are provided by such organizations that are pushing for daily quality physical activity/education, but also charge between $50 and $100 for a resource book.  I was blessed to receive some resources from my friend Dia, but these resources were only available via partnership that Special Olympics Ontario has with other sport organizations.  The same organizations challenging the world to provide more opportunity and options for physical activity to kids are the same that are making it inaccessible for the bulk of organizations to do so — it’s understandable that profit and business takes precedence, but these things only work if the programs seeking the resources have the funds to access them, making it a catch-22.  These barriers are not typically due to childcare centres in themselves, but their governing bodies or sport and physical activity non-profits not reaching the intended market in the most effective way and/or not receiving adequate funding to be able to reach the places that need it most. What can be done to overcome them is likely a huge mess of economics, politics and continuing education.

I am only a small piece in the puzzle, and the centre I work at joins in the picture.  The puzzle needs to keep being put together to give our kids active, healthy futures and encourage physical activity for life.  I play a small role in helping get these kids more physically active–in a week, I spend an hour and a half in the gym with them.  It’s not enough, but it’s all I can do, and hope that the rest of the active component of our program, physical education class, outdoor play and parental engagement are doing the rest.  As for other childcare programs?  There’s got to be something more out there.

If you’re a childcare provider or have a child in a licensed daycare, let me know your thoughts — what’s your physical activity program like?  Do you feel that it’s enough?  What would you like to see your kids doing differently?  Let me know what country you’re from so we can compare.  Additionally, if you’re a childcare provider and can direct me to any resources, I’d greatly appreciate it!