Olympic snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll had one message for the kids at Myrtle Philip Community School on Monday, Oct. 7, and that’s to get active.
“I started (snowboarding) the year I started here,” she told the assembled students. “My friends got me to do a sport I hadn’t tried before and now I’ve been to the Olympics twice.”
For the next four weeks, Oct. 7 to Nov. 1, the students at Myrtle Philip have been challenged to complete a program launched by the B.C. Medical Association called “Be Active Every Day.” The program was brought to Myrtle Philip by local doctors Nancy Johnston and Fern von der Porten, with Nicoll — an alumni of the school — agreeing to speak to the students. Nicoll and freestyle skier Andi Naude are the provincial spokespersons for the new program.
The program asks kids to follow a 5-2-1-0 program: eating five fruits and vegetables a day, limiting daily screen time to just two hours, getting one hour a day of exercise and consuming zero sweetened drinks. The kids cheered (and sometimes booed) the limitations, but Myrtle Philip principal Jeff Maynard reminded the kids that it was supposed to be hard.
“This challenge is not easy,” he told the students. “If you’re already doing 60 minutes of exercise a day, and a lot of you are, then it’s not a challenge. If you have to challenge yourself to do a little bit more then you can.”
As well as participating in sports, the program encourages kids to try a new activity that they’ve never tried before.
For the program the kids received a booklet, a frisbee and a wristband. There are chances for individual participants across the province to win a new bike, and the class that submits the best active photo can win a Subway sandwich party.
Nicoll said she felt it was important to get involved. “Growing up in Whistler and with all the after-school activities I did, I never stopped (being active),” she said. “I felt it was important to get more kids involved (in sports) with obesity rates going up.”
Parents wishing to participate on their own can visit the official website, www.bcma.org/be_active_everyday.