From left to right: Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw; Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney; and Principal of the Springer Memorial Secondary School, Mitchelle Maxwell, chatting at the groundbreaking ceremony for the school’s 200-metre five-lane track, today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The High Performance Centre which the Springer Memorial School is establishing at its environs on Government Hill is being seen by Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney, as fitting into the reform agenda for education.

This was underscored today by the Minister, as she delivered the feature address at the groundbreaking ceremony for the school’s 200-metre five-lane track.

While expressing pleasure at the institution’s foresight in relation to the project, she reminded all gathered that the Ministry was in the process of reforming the education system at all levels to encompass holistic approaches, in an effort to sustain national growth and development as envisioned in the Education 2030 Agenda.

“I commend the Springer Memorial School for their ability to think beyond the boundaries, as it relates to building capacity. You have recalibrated and have sought to modernise your infrastructure in an effort to create a fit-for-purpose facility, which will support new and innovative educational programmes that will also contribute nationally to the direction the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training is seeking to move this country,” Minister McConney said.

Pointing out that the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of education, recognised that efforts must be robust at ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of the well-being for all remained paramount at the centre of national engagement, she stated: “Consequently, physical education and sports must be seen as important to preventative health care and with schools playing a critical role in promoting a healthy lifestyle not only as an in school initiative, but fundamentally as a lifelong imperative.”

And, Ms. McConney stressed: “The time has come certainly for us to move away from relegating physical education programmes to ‘games’.  Gone are the days when our physical education activities were limited to running around the track and executing some star jumps, doing two pushups and kicking a ball.  We know only too well of the financial gains in sports and the tremendous benefits professional athletes are able to realise as a result of engagement in high quality physical education programmes, like the ones we have here at Springer Memorial.  

“We also know of the many careers and sports, whether you are talking about sports medicine, physicians, kinesiologists, exercise physiologists, facilities managers, nutritionists, the list goes on and these are professions and careers that are available in front and behind the scenes in sports. In addition to the financial and career gains that can accrue, a high quality physical education teaches the value and benefits of physical and mental health, social skills, self-esteem and character development, as well as student academic success.”

The Education Minister further pointed out that research confirmed that healthier students correlate to better learners, and studies conducted support the view that where there was appropriate physical activity, the overall well-being of students was positively impacted.  

Project Manager at C.O. Williams, Steven Williams, explaining some of the features of the new project to Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney; and Principal of the Springer Memorial Secondary School, Mitchelle Maxwell, today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Speaking also about her own exploits as an athlete and athletic scholar, she said a meaningful and relevant physical education curriculum would afford students many opportunities to explore, enjoy and succeed in a range of physical activities.

Additionally, she noted that students who participate in this type of programme would be able to develop various skills and use tactics and strategies, as well as analyse situations critically and make informed decisions.

Describing the initiatives by Springer Memorial as part of a critical development of youth through sport, she said: “Today, therefore, signals another important step in the life of this noble and forward thinking institution, the Springer Memorial School. In May of 2017, a proposal was made to develop the western side of this school, with the view of constructing a 200-metre five-lane track, a shade house in support of hydroponics farming, where students would explore techniques in hydroponics and improvements in poultry production facilities. These additions will see students expanding the agriculture production by working in tandem with the Department of Human Ecology and the Department of Science with a view of creating a ‘from farm to table experience’.

“Of significance will be the ability of students at Springer Memorial School to promote healthy foods not just for student athletes, but all students in general. This proposal, which I commend for its ambition, must be heralded as transformational. The completion of such facilities will be the first of its kind within the construct of a school environment in Barbados. Thank you for blazing the trail, Springer Memorial. It is my belief that the interconnected concepts of eating healthily and being active will become even more real to the student population, and will increase their appreciation for sustainable approaches to healthy living.”

The completion of the High Performance Centre at the Springer Memorial School was also said to be a reminder of how schools can serve as catalysts for change, as the island looked to develop capacity, promote critical thinking, problem solving and engage in lifelong learning.

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