Mount Saint Vincent University today celebrated the launch of the winter 2020 PACE Program. PACE stands for physically active children excel and is a free weekly play-based physical movement program for young children (aged 3 to 7).
Based on the success of previous pilots, extensive planning by program founder and director Dr. Sarah Reddington, and a contribution from Insurance Bureau of Canada, the winter 2020 program features new equipment and brings expanded participation – while it was previously available only to children from the University’s Child Study Centre, this year’s program is open to the community.
MSVU recently received a donation of $10,000 in support of PACE from Insurance Bureau of Canada. With this donation, program equipment was expanded to include adapted physical activity materials, balance and stability mats and apparatus, as well as inclusive manipulative equipment (visual impairment balls, soft skin balls, crawling tunnels, and sensory stepping stones).
“The PACE program at MSVU is leading the way in purposeful play programming towards building children’s physical literacy skills, which are critical to their overall healthy development,” said Dr. Mary Bluechardt, MSVU President and Vice-Chancellor. “This program also demonstrates the University’s strong commitment to community, including giving back to the Halifax area community we’re so proud to be a part of. At MSVU, we are fortunate to have faculty, staff and students with incredible expertise to share.”
“PACE is a program designed to encourage young children to explore physical activity, to gain competencies in movement and become motivated to be lifelong movers,” said Dr. Sarah Reddington, Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Youth Study and program founder. “PACE also supports the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines that suggest young children receive 180 minutes of physical activity every day with 60 minutes being energetic play. We see the children in our PACE program getting their heart rates up and getting that vigorous play that is often not prioritized in schools and early childhood settings. But, ultimately, the children are engaged and having fun and this is what we want to see.”
“IBC is honoured to support the PACE program as it provides beneficial programs for those on campus in addition to the broader community,” said Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, IBC. “The PACE program is a valuable opportunity for children to participate in physical activity, learning skills that will prevent injury and promote safety throughout their development. We are proud to support MSVU’s commitment to this important program in the community.”
The PACE program provides a valuable experiential learning opportunity for MSVU students in the University’s Child and Youth Study, Bachelor of Education, Applied Human Nutrition, and Psychology programs. New this year, Dalhousie Kinesiology students are also helping to facilitate PACE as part of a Directed Studies Kinesiology course.
The PACE program is a response to the province’s Let’s Get Moving initiative to get Nova Scotians moving, reflects the physical literacy for life goals of the national Sport for Life organization, and follows Sport for Life Active Start principles which help to encourage children to develop positive experiences in relation to physical activity. Further, the PACE program is designed to be fully inclusive and allows all children to be able to participate in and explore play at their own pace with the ultimate goal of improving their physical literacy. The ratio of children to facilitators is 2:1.
Each session is an hour long and emphasizes child-led play with activities such as: obstacle courses, motor-sensory stations, manipulative skills, hand/eye coordination, low organized games and parachute activities.