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Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong, an early childhood education instructor at Red River College, outlines some of the positive effects. "Children get to use their creativity and athleticism in different ways. As they get older, they learn about teamwork, healthy competition, people skills and negotiation, so it's pretty far reaching," she said. "Children develop friendships outside of their school group or they get to see their school friends beyond the school setting." The positive ripple effect can reach families and communities as well. "Extracurricular activities can extend family networks. They get to meet other families and have gatherings. In particular, when people may not have extended family nearby, it creates connections for them," Lindsey-Armstrong said. "Also for people who are newcomers to the city or the country, they get to learn a little bit more about familial culture through extracurricular activities with their children. They can intermix with people of other cultures and age groups, so it can be beneficial in that way." Kelly Andrushko, another instructor in the early childhood education program at Red River College, said physical activity behaviours developed during the preschool period can actually set up lifelong habits. "Physical activity, especially in groups of children, not only develops movement skills, fine motor skills and cardiovascular health, but it also develops so many other things like how to co-operate and how to have empathy," she said. "It's amazing how a lot of these activities not only teach specific skills but also a lot of those fundamental human skills like decision- making, problem-solving and self-confidence." Through her research, Andrushko discovered that kids are more likely to get involved in physical activities when adults participate as well. "For children that have these amazing role models in their lives — family members, early childhood educators, teachers, older peers and older siblings — it sends a message to them that it's important to be engaged in different physical activities," she said. "When you're a play partner for children, it shows them that this is important for our health and it's fun. It also tells the children that they are important too." For Leisha Strachan, she bases much of her research around the 4 C's Framework, which looks at building competence, confidence, connection and character. "Sport has a key role in developing each of those," said Strachan, an associate professor in the University of Manitoba's faculty of kinesiology and recreation management. "With kids involved in sport, we also want to think of building mental skills such as self-imagery, self-talk, being able to reflect on their experiences and developing better concentration." Strachan invites coaches to contact her if they would like to be involved in a research project using Project Score, which focuses on the 4 C's Framework. More information is available at Although organized activities offer bountiful benefits, all three experts agree that it's important to allow time for free play. "We need to provide opportunities for kids to develop those skills on their own through play and to have some self-discovery," Strachan said. "That's very important instead of adults always taking the lead." At the same time, Strachan said it's useful to seek ways to make extracurricular activities more accessible and culturally relevant for all to enjoy. "We have to think of ways to be more understanding of other cultures as well," she said. "Not only should we be teaching activities that we think are valuable, but we should be asking what would be meaningful so that all children and youth feel more motivated to participate." ❚ View online at For advertising information, call: 204-697-7389 S U P P L E M E N T T O T H E W I N N I P E G F R E E P R E S S - T H U R S D A Y , A U G U S T 8 , 2 0 1 9 Leisha Strachan is an associate professor in the University of Manitoba's faculty of kinesiology and recreation management. By Jennifer McFee | Winnipeg Free Press Boys' participation in dance classes is rising up by leaps and bounds. At L.A. Dance Academy, the boys' program has expanded over the last five years to include five recreational class choices and two competitive groups. Boys are also welcome to join the academy's co-ed classes. "The perception has changed a lot and boys have started to become more interested," said owner and director Lucy Reveco. "I even have boys that play hockey and soccer who dance, and they say that it's helped them immensely with co-ordination, strength and flexibility." On Aug. 21, L.A. Dance Academy will host an open house event with free workshops, including some for boys only. "We just came back from Dance World Cup in Whistler," Reveco added, "and both of our competitive boys groups did very well." Katrin Benedictson, vice-principal of the recreational division of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, said that boys benefit from the shared energy in all-male classes. "They also thrive in our co-ed classes, but the boys' classes have a bit of a different energy and they move at a different pace," she said. "They can start to work on the bigger jumps and turns and the steps that you need to be a little bit more fearless for." Royal Winnipeg Ballet offers classes for boys of all ages, starting as young as four years old. "The classes instil a love of dance in these boys," she said. "They have fun, but they're also learning gross motor skills, personal space and body awareness in our creative movement classes. Once they get a bit older, they're developing skills and having tangible progress with technique." REGISTER NOW FOR 204.334.0080 Unit 200-2405 Main St Winnipeg, MB R2V 4Z5 PRESCHOOL COMBO • BALLET/TAP/JAZZ COMBO BALLET • JAZZ • HIP HOP • LYRICAL • TAP ACRO & AERIAL SILKS • BOYS ONLY HIP HOP • MOMMY & ME COMPETITIVE DANCE TEAMS • CONTEMPORARY MUSICAL THEATRE • BIRTHDAY PARTIES COMPETITIVE AND RECREATIONAL PROGRAMS WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21 6-9 PM OPEN HOUSE FALL CLASSES Extracurricular activities produce positive impacts for kids of all ages. PHOTOS COURTESY OF RED RIVER COLLEGE Continued on Page 3 >> Dance classes are growing in popularity as an activity for boys. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET SCHOOL AND L.A. DANCE ACADEMY By Jennifer McFee | Winnipeg Free Press Extracurricular activities can have kids jumping for joy and singing a happy tune because of the many benefits of being involved.

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