Volunteering makes you feel good and can help develop skills and gain valuable experience. It also allows students to build community awareness, meet new people, and make meaningful connections.
Physical Education 11/12 at my school has always included a volunteer component, and Dr. Sandra Gibbons from the University of Victoria suggests that students should “socially engage in physical activity outside physical education.” She goes on to say that taking PE to the community, extends the sense of relatedness beyond the PE classroom, as well as increases the chance that students’ will stay engaged in physical activity once they graduate.
Dr. Gibbons suggests that teachers:
1. Encourage students to volunteer both in school and out of school
Grade 11 and 12 PE students at our school are required to complete 10 hours of community volunteer hours that emphasize community health and wellness. It is considered an assignment, and worth 10% of their final mark. PE teachers, along with the school career centre, can help students find opportunities that interest them. Some examples include volunteering at the elementary school basketball jamboree, volunteering at the local community horseshoe tournament, and volunteering at a seniors dragon boating regatta. I will also offer students make-up classes if they go above and beyond their 10 hours. Mowing their own lawn does not count! 🙂
2. Involve students in organizing and managing house leagues, clubs, intramurals, etc.
I have had students organize and run intramurals on several occasions. I emphasize the importance of planning and promoting the event – they can’t just show up and throw out some balls. Sometimes it is awesome, and other times it could use some work. Regardless, it is a great learning opportunity for students and it directly benefits a large number of the student body.
3. Encourage students to participate in community events such as the Terry Fox Run
As a group, our classes have participated in several events – raising money for the Tour de Rock and raising money and participating in the Relay for Life. It was great to participate in these events as a group because it really cultivated a sense of community and pride in our class.
4. Introduce students to community event volunteer opportunities such as working at a water station in a community run
As I mentioned under the first suggestion, our school career centre and our PE department do a great job at advertising volunteer opportunities in the community. We can also direct students to our community Facebook page which is dedicated to community volunteer opportunities.
5. Involve students in school-wide events that complement PE such as a Wellness Week organized by students
This suggestion is on my to do list this school year. I am inspired by some female-friendly PE teachers in the Comox Valley to organize and run an entire day of physical activity and wellness activities for our grade 8 female students. I am hoping to plant the seed and then let the senior students run with it!
6. Include social action projects – each class chooses something they would like to
contribute to the community that focuses on physical activity
My Women’s PE classes have regularly taught minor games and kids yoga classes to elementary students in the community. This year we are going to have “little buddies” whom we will meet with regularly to participate in health and wellness activities.
I have also had other classes who have volunteered to do trail-building and maintenance, participate in the Great Shoreline Clean-Up, or work with seniors at a local nursery home.
I hope that this post gives you some ideas into volunteer activities that you could promote or participate in with your PE class. For more information please read Dr. Sandra Gibbon’s paper: