Please don’t nickel and dime our children

'Please don't nickel and dime our children' No gymnasium at F.H. Collins School for almost three years is an issue, but it is a bigger issue than simply the where and how around PE classes. This is a community issue, affecting students, families and the

No gymnasium at F.H. Collins School for almost three years is an issue, but it is a bigger issue than simply the where and how around PE classes. This is a community issue, affecting students, families and the many groups that use the gym outside of school hours. And, it is a bigger issue because the students and families it will affect are not necessarily those involved in the initial reconstruction plans.

According to a Yukon government news release in April 2010, “the construction of the new school is scheduled to be completed in late 2012.” Well, here we are, in late 2012, wondering if the gym might be ready by 2016.

Without a gym at FHC for two and a half years, and likely longer, a number of questions come to mind. Not specific questions like, “What will my daughter do for PE in Grade 9,” but questions like “What really are this government’s priorities?”

So please, will the government tell us how, without a gym at F.H., do the following?

How will it achieve its commitment to reach national targets of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily for children and youth (as identified in the renewed Yukon Active Living Strategy)?

How will it follow B.C. curriculum, which requires all students to have 30 minutes of daily physical activity each and every day; not only those in PE?

How will it address the impact on sport development programs and recreation leagues? These groups as well as teams training for Canada Games and Arctic Winter Games will be seriously affected by the gym loss and by the subsequent reduction in overall gym space in Whitehorse.

How will the territory achieve its national commitments to increase physical activity levels of children and youth during the critical time period of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.? How will two hours after school at the Canada Games Centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays for more than 600 students, or squeezing in with after-school activities at Selkirk, Christ the King and Vanier help the government meet this commitment?

How will the territory address the socioeconomic barriers to physical activity? Yukon has families who rely on school facilities to support the health of their children before school, during lunch and after school.

How will the territory counteract the loss of a gathering space for the school community? How will the occasional school assembly at Yukon College foster school spirit and develop the social and emotional connections to school so essential for success during the high school years?

Without a gym at F.H. for almost three years, what messages are being conveyed to our children?

Evidence demonstrates that children and youth who are physically active during their teen years have higher self-esteem, are less likely to drink, smoke or have sex at a young age, and are more likely to succeed in their educational goals, etc.

Please don’t nickel and dime our children. Our children are our future. Do the right thing today and invest in the health of our children, our schools and our communities today. Then, maybe when we’re old, our children will make the right decisions for us too.

Caroline Sparks

Whitehorse