Class in co-ordination to encourage play

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:58 14/05/2014
Warwick King
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
ON THE BALL: Matt Watson of No Child Left Inside practices throwing skills with 5-year-olds from Richmond Primary School.

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Children who struggle with the basics of physical activity are being given a helping hand by a Richmond man who is determined to get them out to play.

Matt Watson has developed a non-profit business called No Child Left Inside that will work to increase children's confidence to play outdoors.

The father of three wanted to teach children the fundamentals of co-ordination and physical activity so they could play outdoors with confidence.

"Whether we like it or not there is a need for children to learn the basic fundamental movements skills.

"Children who do not become competent in these avoid physical activity and have reduced self-confidence. Being physically competent is huge social currency at schools."

The programme is initially aimed at 5 to 7 year olds, though would be rolled out to other year levels as well.

Watson is passionate about sports and physical activity.

"I want to show kids how much fun they can have through physical activity, not just being sport related. I want to show them they can go out and play."

The lessons are non-competitive and can be adapted and tailored to meet school's needs. Classes are 30 minutes once a week, though schools are encouraged to use the material for other lessons.

Watson is focused on teaching children the basics, like passing and bouncing balls, running, skipping and balance.

His programme is funded by business sponsorship and community funding, making it free for schools.

He said some children were "staggeringly unco-ordinated" and lacked basic playing skills. "I want to make all children confident and capable, confident to try and excited to do something new."

He had some "really cool moments" since starting the classes, including teaching one child how to throw and catch a ball. "It was like he had learnt a new magic trick."

When Watson was a child, he said everyone would go outside and play and naturally develop fundamental movements skills. However, there were many options for children to spend their time now, and playing outside was not as common.

He began the programme in four schools last term. This term he has added another three schools and another staff member.

In total over 700 children are involved in the programme.

He was "blown away" by support through commercial funding and wanted to get more funding to incorporate more schools into the programme.

He was working with Nathan Fa'avae, a Nelson-based adventure racer, on the programme.

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Fa'avae was a director and co-owner. He would offer inspirational talks at local schools to encourage children to get active.

"Nathan epitomises what No Child Left Inside stands for and it just happens that he's one of the best in the world at it. Running, climbing, biking, swimming are all basic activities that all kids can enjoy," Watson said.

Watson brought the programme to Richmond School last term. His children also go to the school.

Principal Tim Brenton said the lessons were great to build up the children's skills, and worked in with what the school was teaching. He said Watson made sure the lessons were fun,

and focused on children who appeared to be struggling.

"He's gotten to know the kids really well, he really tries to target some kids he sees struggling socially or have a lack of involvement in physical activity. He tries to boost thier confidence and encourage them to do things.

"Our aim is to get all kids active at lunch and play time."

No Child Left Inside receives funding from Milestones Homes, Haven Reality, Fresh Choice Richmond, Pomeroys Coffee, and Energie Fruit.

Watson was looking for more sponsorship. Interested parties can contact him on Watson5@xtra.co.nz.

- The Nelson Mail

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