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The greatest prize in sport

While athletics can provide students with many lessons on dedication and the pursuit of excellence, there are so many other character-building benefits, like leadership skills, teamwork and the acceptance of others.

Prairie Rose School’s Track and Field Club is an excellent example of athletics teaching broader life lessons. The club, which is open to Grades 3 to 6 students, has 90 per cent participation amongst those grade levels.

The school had 98 of its Grade 3 to 6 students attend the March 14 Athletics Manitoba Elementary Relays at the University of Manitoba’s Max Bell Centre. An earlier event, on Feb. 1, had a similar high turnout.

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The reason for those numbers is that students of every background and ability have the opportunity to participate. In a school that has a high number of Inclusive Education students, the opportunity-for-all philosophy is evident in all aspects of life at Prairie Rose.

“Acceptance is something we’re always fostering at Prairie Rose School,” said Principal Ken Romaniuk. “It’s nice to see the acceptance of all Prairie Rose students, no matter what level of athlete they might be. They all have a chance to participate.”

Every student can benefit from participating in sports.

“It certainly promotes active, healthy living, and there are different skills in running and track that students can pick up and transfer into adulthood,” Mr. Romaniuk said.

During team relay events, it is not uncommon to see Prairie Rose students going back on the track to run alongside their teammates and offer words of encouragement.

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“Even though some students may have limited ability in some of the events, we get other students to help them out,” said phys. ed. teacher Scott Smoke.

“It’s a fantastic leadership opportunity and works into our whole program about sportsmanship. When it’s appropriate, students can still be competitive, but at the same time they can also be inclusive.”

Grade 6 student Jonathan Dela Cruz said the high participation rate makes the track events so much more meaningful.

“Everyone has a chance to go and experience it,” he said. “We get to have fun and learn how to cooperate with each other.”

In preparation for the track meets, students have been exercising at track and field club practices three lunch hours a week. It’s a commitment that students are more than willing to make.

“I like it because you can show your true colours in competition,” said Grade 5 student Rhiana Garcia. “And we learn about team work and how to improve our leadership.”

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