Territory may be shirking phys ed commitments

The Yukon government may fall short of its commitments under a number of recent intergovernmental agreements if it doesn't build a temporary gym for the F.H. Collins School, says Caroline Sparks.

The Yukon government may fall short of its commitments under a number of recent intergovernmental agreements if it doesn’t build a temporary gym for the F.H. Collins School, says Caroline Sparks.

Her son, Tristan, is in Grade 10 at F.H. Collins, and Sparks is one of a group of parents concerned about the school being without a gym until construction of a new building is finished more than two years from now.

Her biggest concern isn’t with the potential loss of phys-ed time, but with the lack of after-school programming, something she said affects more than just students.

“The after-school time period is when kids get pregnant, when criminal activity is most likely to occur. I don’t think the Department of Education recognizes that, and I don’t understand why other departments haven’t picked up on it,” said Sparks.

Sparks pointed to a number of reports and governmental agreements that she said oblige the government to provide an on-site gym space.

In June, federal, provincial and territorial governments – including the Yukon – endorsed the Canadian Sport Policy 2012. It includes a framework that seeks ways to reduce sedentary behaviour and high-risk activities in the after-school hours.

According to a 2011 report on the Pan Canadian Active After School Framework, the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the most important hours to increase physical activity.

The Pan Canadian framework looked at pilot projects to increase physical activity and wellness in communities across the country.

It found that after-school screen time on technology devices spikes, and girls and aboriginal students are even less likely to be active. The framework proposes to develop stronger links between schools and municipalities, with a focus on using school facilities as a hub for community recreation.

“Students need 60 minutes a day – they won’t get that in the photo lab or the cafeteria. There are quite significant portions of parents who report that the only physical activity their children have is at school,” said Sparks.

Education Minister Scott Kent has committed to looking at “fiscally responsible” options for a temporary gym at the current F.H. Collins site.

The current plan calls for students to be bused to a number of other facilities around town, including the Canada Games Centre, Yukon College, Mount McIntyre and other schools. The budget for busing students to other facilities is $180,000.

Education spokesman Chris Madden said that if a financially viable option for a temporary gym can be found, the $180,000 would be put towards that instead.

On Tuesday in the legislature, Kent said that the Department of Education will be hiring an additional communications staff member to help with the F.H. Collins project.

“As far as the communications go … Department of Education will be contracting an individual to handle the communications exclusively for this project throughout the construction phase,” said Kent.

Madden clarified on Thursday that the new communications position is only a proposal right now, and that hiring any new staff member would be a human resources decision. Because it’s only a proposal, Madden couldn’t supply a budget for any new position but did say the cost of a new salary would not come out of the budget for the new school.

“It’s just an idea right now. It’s something that we recognize where we need to increase our capacity so stakeholders can get all the information they need,” said Madden.

“Our communications unit is already operating at capacity, and we realize that with F.H. coming down the pipe we’ll have an active construction site wrapped around a school. So we need to make sure that parents and students and all of our stakeholders get all the safety and other information they need quickly,” he said.

“I feel like, as a parent, this was talked about when my son was in Grade 5. Now he’s in Grade 10,” said Sparks.

“I trusted in the process. I think part of the mess-up in communication is the delays and the lags, and somewhere the process has broken down. There’s something missing here, some disconnect. Whether or not an additional staff person would solve that, I don’t know,” said Sparks.

A petition being circulated by students asking the government to build a temporary gym had reached 415 signatures by press time on Friday. Sparks said the students are hoping to reach 1,000 signatures by Wednesday.

The petition can be found online at www.fhgympetition.com.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read