Deidre Macpherson: Active school sports culture spurs lifelong health and wellness
Year: 2020 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient
The Linden School
Health and physical education, grades 8 to 12
With any other coach we would not have even tried out for fear of embarrassment and failure but because of Deidre's encouragement, both of us joined extra-curricular sports for the first time.
Deidre Macpherson helps students make connections to local, national and international communities and issues—whether she is taking them to a local lawn bowling club to learn from seniors, showing a documentary about Indigenous women's struggles to play lacrosse, organizing a field trip to train with teen athletes in Cuba, or leading class discussions of human rights in sport.
Deidre's holistic sports program focuses on learning, inclusion, mutual respect, self-improvement and enjoyment. She wants students to take healthy risks, challenge themselves physically and develop traits—such as self-confidence and time management—that will serve them in all areas of life.
In the classroom
- Builds confidence: from the beginning, refers to all students as "athletes"; changes students' mindset; inspires them to hone their skills; coaches their parents on ways to encourage them; students feel comfortable to try things without fear of embarrassment.
- Enables lifelong fitness: introduces students to individual activities, such as rock climbing, camping, snowshoeing and archery; runs field trips to commercial gyms so students know how to use the equipment safely; students hone independence and resilience.
- Introduces students to digital tools, such as fitness websites and exercise support groups: has them analyze health and personal safety apps; students develop critical thinking skills and find tools they can use to manage their health and wellness outside of school.
- Makes extensive use of video documentaries, interviews, films and advertisements: engages visual learners; increases awareness of women's sports; sparks discussions of social justice issues, such as health accessibility, gender diversity and equal pay.
- Built school's sports culture from scratch: when she started, school had never won a sports award; it now holds 33 championship banners, and 90 percent of middle and high school students are on a team.
- Fosters awareness of accessibility issues: students adapt sports equipment for para-athletes—for instance, putting noisemakers in balls; analyze data about their adaptations; Grade 12 students use wheelchairs for a week at school, sparking discussions about disabilities.
- Maintains a supportive, inclusive environment: teams have no try-outs, no cuts and no captains, and everyone gets a chance to play; classes on sexuality are open and non-judgemental; students often ask her advice on such issues as contraception or coming out.
- Develops students' leadership and communications skills: students run school-wide events, organize field trips, coach middle-school teams, lead junior-school clubs, write articles and social media posts.
Get in touch!
The Linden School
10 Rosehill Avenue
Toronto ON M4T 1G5
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