Have you heard of self-regulation? I hadn’t before I heard about Sparks Fly and met Luke MacDonald, owner of Aerobics First, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was blown away when I started talking to Luke about this program. Self-regulation is the ability to manage your own energy states, including emotions, behaviors and attention, in ways that are socially acceptable. I am sure all of us know someone who could use help with managing their energy states, especially in situations where we are required to focus on a task, such as school.
Enhancing a child’s ability to regulate him or herself has a dramatic impact, not only on the child’s wellbeing and capacity to learn, but an equally dramatic impact on the wellbeing of parents and educators. With this thought in mind, Sparks Fly was created. Run for Life in partnership with the Halifax Regional School Board and Luke MacDonald have created the Sparks Fly initiative to incorporate physical activity with academic success in elementary classrooms. Inspired by Dr. Stuart Shanker’s keynote at “The Collision” in Waterloo and Dr. John Ratey’s book “Spark”, Sparks Fly is an initiative that will mix physical activity with self-regulation principles in an educational setting.
Mini, silent bikes, called Spark Brain Bikes, are introduced to children in classrooms. They are to create teachable moments, and helping children understand the connection between play, exercise and reduced anxiety. The goal is to keep kids in class through the calming effect of exercise.
The result has been nothing short of life changing.“We were careful to stress that teachers needed to tread carefully (forgive the mixed metaphor) when they introduced the bike into their class, watching to see who benefitted and never pressuring any child to give it a spin. And I have to tell you, what we’ve seen so far defies my cautiousness. It seems that every single kid wants a turn and every single one of them is finding it regulating. Even more surprising is to see how self-regulating the class is around sharing the bike; time after time we’ve heard of children giving up their turn because so-and-so seemed to need it more at the moment. But maybe the biggest shock of all is the pictures we’re receiving of kids doing their schoolwork on the bike while they’re pedalling!” “I am a grade two teacher and I have seen, first hand, the positive outcomes of using these bikes in our inclusive schools. These bikes help teach children a valuable lesson- that they have the power to calm themselves down. Not only that, riding the bike sparks up the brain so that the child is also ready to learn. Calm, alert and ready to learn is the state of mind a teacher wants for every child. These bikes are a wonderful tool for both the children and the teachers in our inclusive school environment.”
I urge you to support the Sparks Fly movement. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Share this story. You can find more information about the program on both of these social media sites as well as on the Run for Life website.
Donate to the cause if you are able: any donation amount will be graciously accepted, however, if you donate $660.00 they will engrave a bike with your name, company name or dedication upon it. Cheques are to be made payable to Halifax Regional School Board:
A tax receipt will be mailed to you if your donation is over $20.00. Thank you for your support!