Kids start climbing at Queen Elizabeth School

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November 13, 2014 9:34 AM

Tyra Krykowski-Lumgair, a student at Queen Elizabeth School, enjoys the school's new climbing wall, purchased with donations made by the now disbanded Trafalgar Community Centre. - Jon Clarke Photo

Phys-ed at Queen Elizabeth School just got more awesome.

Volleyball, soccer and gymnastics might still be staples of grade school activity, but now kids can get vertical with the school’s new climbing wall and it’s sure to be a main draw going into the future.

“We’re always looking for new ideas to add a more exciting twist to phys-ed and not only look at the traditional sports, but raise exposure to other areas as well,” said acting vice-principal Justin Saulnier.

The wall was installed last April with safety in mind. The 10-by-20 foot unit is outfitted with safety mats and kids are challenged to make their way horizontally across the wall, rather than vertically, never climbing higher than 3.5 feet off the ground. They even play games on the wall; one even involves solving math equations.

This comes as part of the school’s push to introduce activities to children that will carry on through their teen years and into adulthood.

“With our phys-ed program, we’re really looking at life-long pursuits,” said Saulnier. “We also view this as an activity that can carry on as an active pursuit when the kids are older ... it’s definitely something that can promote activity for our whole school.”

The wall isn’t the only unique activity that students can take part in, either. From snowshoeing to making use of cross-country skis and the outdoor rink, kids are gaining more exposure to activities often forgotten in a traditional curriculum. They are even midway through their second year of certification for the National Archery in Schools program.

“I thought that the climbing wall would be a natural fit,” said Saulnier.

The idea for the wall came to him after he attended a conference from the Saskatchewan Physical Education Association, which advocated for rock climbing. But at the time, the school just didn’t have the funds to make it into a reality.

That’s when the Trafalgar Community Association stepped in.

The now disbanded group, which operated out of the Trafalgar Community Centre, couldn’t keep up with the repairs on the centre and came to the unanimous decision to sell the building and the land as an acreage. The money from the sale was split up and donated among communities around Trafalgar.

“Most of our kids go to this school, from the community,” said Murray Wright, past member of the board for the Trafalgar Community Association.

It was agreed; there wasn’t any better place to put a portion of their money but in the school. In total, $15,000 was received by Queen Elizabeth, with $8,000 put toward the purchase of the wall and the rest for new picnic tables for the play yard.

“Schools can always use extra cash for different projects that they may not be able to get funding for otherwise,” said Wright. “So we put this $15,000 out to Queen Elizabeth School so that they could then do what they wanted for a special project. We left it up to them with what they wanted to do. And I couldn’t be happier with what they’ve done.”

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