A new activity for preschoolers with an attending, participating parent/guardian has been taking place on Mondays in the gymnasium of the Bentley Community Church.
It is called Sportball. The name Sportball may be deceiving as it is a lot more than what the name implies.
The six-week free-of-charge-program that ends after Easter was brought into Bentley by Bentley Community Services with funding provided by the Lacombe County Early Childhood Development Coalition.
The program offers an organized hour of active play and exercise that encourages the registered adult/child partnership to engage in activities that are not only fun, but help in the development of balance, strength, co-ordination, stamina, and timing in the young child while developing confidence, self-esteem and teamwork, and at the same time helps teach the adult how to engage in active play with that child with the hopes it will carry over to home.
In this particular session twelve children (the defined limit) ages 2-5, and their adult partner, learn through creative instruction and positive encouragement. They (the pair) learn to listen quietly to instructions and a demonstration while switching very quickly between activities.
The non-competitive sports program is based on skills used in basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, soccer, golf, and tennis and is presented in an age appropriate way.
Many different kinds of simple, inexpensive, age appropriate equipment are incorporated. In this pre-school class there were different kinds and sizes of balls, hula-hoops, beanbags, cones, pieces of cloth and more.
It has proven so popular and well received in Bentley (there were 12 on the waiting list although it was suggested it might be different if there had been a charge) that it is being considered to offer another session again possibly in the fall.
In Bentley a father even took time off from work to come with his son when the mother was not feeling well. Another father had a younger one strapped to his chest while participating with a slightly older one while the mother participated with yet another.
“We coordinated it locally,” said Barb Carson, Bentley Community Services Manager. “It is encouraging to see not only mothers, but also some fathers, come with the kids,” she said.
It has been offered in other places to members of the Lacombe County Early Childhood Development Coalition including Eckville, Clive, Lacombe, Alix, and Blackfalds.
Sportball has franchises throughout North America, all with certified Sportball coaches. This one is based in Red Deer and can offer activities for other events and also camps for children up to the age of twelve.