I'm an Act Now BC Athlete Ambassador, which means that occasionally I put on roller blades to visit elementary schools where I try to encourage kids to choose healthy lifestyles and subsequently participate in drum circles, all in exchange for Hello Kitty stickers for my iPhone. Or something like that.
A few weeks ago I was invited by Valleycliffe Elementary School to come visit the classes during the week of Oct. 4-8 and help encourage kids to walk to school. Coincidentally, October 4-8 is International Walk to School Week. So that worked out well.
The school was planning a campaign for the entire week, and classes would keep track of how many students walked to school each day, culminating with a celebration assembly at the end of the week. We decided I would visit each of the seven classes on Monday to help encourage kids to walk to school, and then return on Friday for the assembly.
Now, normally I bring my sled and speed suit with me when I talk to schools, because, let's be honest here, kids would way rather see me dress the class clown in my spandex, play on my sled and ask about my war wounds, then get a lecture on healthy and socially-responsible behaviours. Okay. Let's be more honest. It's ME who looks way cooler and they all want my autograph when I dress the class clown in my spandex, let them play on my sled and tell crash stories, then when I lecture them on healthy and socially-responsible behaviours. Conveniently, their tendency to listen to my lecture on healthy and socially-responsible behaviours seems to increase proportionally with my perceived coolness ...
But here's the thing. My sled weighs 34 kg. And I live 7.8 kilometres away from Valleycliffe Elementary School. And, no offense, but I'm not hauling half my bodyweight in steel down the side of a highway for, like, two days, just to make a point to a bunch of 11-year-olds. 'Cause, if you haven't ever noticed, them kids are smart. And when I got there, dirty and sweaty and crying, limping and starving after my 7.8 km extreme hike, then tried to tell them they should walk to school to, they'd all be like "Hey, idiot, you know that the automobile is now mass-produced for public use, right?"
But still, this was kinda a conundrum, given that it was International Walk to School week, and I was planning to drive to school to tell kids not to drive to school.
So, the principal of the school and I decided that I would drive on Monday, talk to each class and show off my equipment (my sled, and such ... what were you thinking?), and then on Friday I would return for the celebration assembly, car-less.
Which sounds like a great plan. Except that part where I live 7.8 km from the school. Which would be great if I were, say, a nordic skier. Or a runner. Or a cyclist. But let's recap my sport again here: I run for 30m, and then I lie down. I think running around a track one time is an endurance workout.
So. I rollerbladed!
Okay. Fine. I rollerbladed!*
The week was pretty cool. My focus was on encouraging the classes to try new things - the week isn't just about walking to school, but about making healthy choices. So we talked about different ways to get to school (Okay, the best thing? There are not one, but TWO kids who ... wait for it ... UNICYCLE to school here!) and about ways to participate in the spirit of iWalk week even if you had no alternatives but to drive (which I TOTALLY understand ... )
During iWalk week they also happened to have a drumming teacher come in, and each class in the school spent a several hours learning traditional drumming skills, (which the two teachers of the classrooms next door to music room REALLY enjoyed ... ) and they had a presentation during the assembly.
Which explains how after the assembly I somehow ended up joining a grade four drumming circle.
Coincidentally, I played snare drum in a marching band in younger days, but the grade fours don't know that, so they thought I was pretty brilliant when we had freestyle time and went around the circle while each person got to solo.
These are my grade six homepeople ... turns out I talked to this particular class about two years ago ... and they would be the ones who walked around Squamish with autograph on their body (blond on the left), hoody (blue eyes in the front) and backpack (Justin Bieber there in the middle ... )
These guys are by far my favorite age group. When you first go into a class full of eleven or twelve or thirteen year olds, they sit there all chill, trying to pretend they are too cool to ask you any questions or hear what you have to say. But they are so NOT good at it. Give me five minutes to convince just one of them to come up and try to lift my sled or put on my spandex, and 30 minutes later I have signed 26 posters, in seven different colours, three with hearts, one with a happy face, and have a Hello Kitty sticker on my phone.
* Some of the way ... What!? Come on! 7.8 km! Does anyone know how far that is? Come on! I made the effort. I even wore a helmet. And it was UPHILL. Both ways. In the rain. I know, I know, it's for the children. But really, whose glutes could seriously manage to self-propel themselves that far without exploding? Wait. What? There are sports where people run that far? FARTHER? And they call ME crazy?!?