Nova Scotia Archery in Schools Pilot Program

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An ancient sport may hold the key to helping more students get the point about the importance of being active.

The Department of Education, in partnership with the National Archery in Schools Program, will be offering archery as part of the high school physical education program starting with 10 pilot schools in Nova Scotia, beginning in September.

The program, which is gaining popularity around the world, also aims to better engage students in their learning, build self-confidence, and instill a life-long passion for the sport.

"We all want to see our students more active and more interested in sport. I believe including archery in our physical education program will be a significant benefit to students," said Education Minister Karen Casey.

As a physical activity, the sport builds strength, improves concentration and develops fine motor skills.

Teachers also report that attendance is higher on days when archery is taught and students say they enjoy school more. Other positive spinoffs include improved student behaviour and, in some cases, better grades.

"Archery is a great sport that engages all students, regardless of gender or physical ability," said Roy Grimes, executive director and co-founder of National Archery in the Schools Program. "It gives young people a wonderful opportunity to develop discipline, exercise their minds and bodies, and have fun learning a lifetime sport."

Mr. Grimes is in Halifax this week training active healthy living consultants; sport animators; and physical education teachers, who will deliver the program in Nova Scotia schools this fall. It will be the first time the program is offered in Canadian schools. The not-for-profit organization is providing the archery equipment and training free to the province's pilot schools.

Archery is one of safest school sports, safer than any ball sport, according to the National Safety Council in the United States. The sport is done in the school gym, using specially designed safety nets that prevent arrows from passing through.

The National Archery in Schools program is currently offered at 3,800 schools in 42 U.S. states and Australia. More than 2.3 million students have participated in the program since its inception five years ago.

"Our goal ultimately is to get more young people engaged in lifelong activities, said Natalie Flinn, the Department of Education's active healthy living consultant. "I think this program will inspire many youth to take up these kinds of pursuits beyond school."

The National Archery in the Schools Program was created in Kentucky in March 2002. The program trains teachers on target archery, who in turn, teach their students the skill.

"I am so excited about teaching this to my students," said Amanda Maynard, a physical education teacher from Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin. "I know they are all going to love it."