By Jason Misner
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, HDSB STAFF
Multiple Olympic medallist Adam Van Koeverden visited New Central Pubic School in Oakville on October 18 to tell students the importance of caring about the world around them.
On behalf of the Right to Play humanitarian group, Oakville resident Van Koeverden told an intrigued group of Kindergarten to Grade 2 students about a destitute African school. It has tin walls and a tin roof, no electricity, and students sit on plastic boxes turned upside to sit and learn. He had the students play some games to demonstrate the aspect of working together.
“A lot of their homes are just like their classrooms,” the decorated kayaker says. “This is something we all have to all recognize, even as young people; we’re very, very lucky in Canada. Kids in some countries don’t get the same opportunities to play and have fun like we do.”
A team of top athletes from more than 40 countries support Right to Play, the group’s website states. As role models, these athletes inspire children and raise awareness about Right To Play internationally. The organization’s aim is to engage key decision-makers from the development, sport, business, media and government sectors and further ensure every child benefits from the positive power of sport and play.
New Central has partnered with the organization as a way to bring all students together while following the school motto, 'Look after yourself, look after one another'.
New Central Principal Merrill Mathews says through Right to Play’s work to bring sport and the message of hope and play to some of the most disadvantaged children in more than two-dozen developing countries, the school is looking at ways to help children around the world play.
Mathews says he hopes students learned that doing your best is the best way to live.
“We are hoping that through Adam's message our students learned the importance of trying your best and always finding ways of looking after one another. In Adam's simple demonstration of the 'elephant' game, kids learn you can have fun in just playing a game and it is not always about winning or losing, and good things will always come when you cheer each other on, rather than put each other down.”
“We need to take the time and have more athlete ambassadors visit our school and show our students what makes a great role model as this will create even stronger connections to the work we are doing with Right to Play.”
It was important for the school to tie Van Koeverden’s visit to key curriculum needs, Mathews says.
“Through our school theme of 'Creative and Critical Thinking', Right to Play has provided a perfect 'fit' in bringing together some of the important issues we need to address with our students. It allows us, as a school, to be proactive in our messaging, especially in our literacy program, where teachers are engaging their students in topics around courage, empathy, and topics that focus on the human condition,” the principal says.