North York Mirror
In this version of capture the flag, two teams of children have to steal three balls from a hula hoop placed at opposite ends of the gym at North York’s Driftwood Community Centre.
Steven Jawahir, 11, and Melissa Thadal, 10, are among the youngsters darting back and forth trying to grab balls and defend their team’s hula hoop.
They deke around other players, most of whom are involved in the game, although there are a few who are playing to the beat of their own drums.
Dan-Dyllan Mugisha, 12, isn’t enamoured with this game. He joins in but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it.
He would have been happier playing one of the many other games taking place at the community centre in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue neighbourhood every weekday afternoon this summer.
At first glance, the scene could be taken from countless summer day camps taking place at community centres and schools across Toronto.
But, in fact, about 70 campers between the ages of seven and 12 are part of a program called Kine Kids created by Angelo Belcastro, chair of York University’s School of Kinesiology.
Developed in conjunction with colleagues from the University of New Brunswick, the program gets youngsters involved in fun active play guided by some of Belcastro’s kinesiology students.
While all children can take part in the program, Kine Kids was developed to appeal to youngsters who are unaccustomed to activity and may be overweight or suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes. It is also geared at pre-teen children who are reaching an age when many youngsters begin to bail on physical activity.
“Rather than having them drop out, we’re using Kine Kids to keep them active longer,” Belcastro said.
The program is needed because Active Healthy Kids Canada has given Canadian children a failing grade in active play and leisure on its 2012 report card, Belcastro pointed out.
Although Kine Kids has been used in a university setting for the last five years, the program in Driftwood marks the first time it has been tried in a community environment, Belcastro said.
The participants undergo a number of tests including having their blood pressure, body fat, biological maturity, muscle strength, aerobic power and self-confidence measured.
While they are playing, the children wear a device called an accelerometer to measure their activity levels.
Kine Kids is designed to get children involved in fun, non-competitive, active games rather than in team sports, Belcastro said.
For kids who are inactive or self-conscious about their athletic ability, team sports can actually act as a deterrent to physical activity, he said.
“To be involved in play, kids today are programmed to sport or organized behaviour. But aspects are problematic. Not everybody is skilled,” Belcastro said.
“We don’t keep score (in Kine Kids). All you have to do is run with a smile on your face. You can do that, can’t you?”
If Steven, Melissa and Dan-Dyllan are any indication, Kine Kids is a success.
“I have good thoughts (about the program). I don’t think it’s going to get boring,” Steven said, adding there are times when he can be a bit of a couch potato.
“I would say it is a fun place. You can do lots of stuff here and make friends. I like getting up to play games.”
Melissa is thrilled with the program, happily describing how her mom signed her up after seeing flyers for the program.
A fan of dodgeball and other activities, Melissa likes the fact the accelerometers are keeping track of her activity levels.
“I’m more like an active kid. I love to play and have fun. I love to be respectful,” she said.
“I think they (children) should get active, do exercising and get into the program. Kids today are active if they find fun games.”
“I say, kids should be active. They should try new stuff,” he said.