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Getting literate in sports: Library’s Be Fit Kits getting kids active in reading and sport

Department of Health and Wellness regional physical activity coordinator Anna Sherwood shows some of the items aimed at promoting physical literacy found in the ‘Be Fit Kit’.
Department of Health and Wellness regional physical activity coordinator Anna Sherwood shows some of the items aimed at promoting physical literacy found in the ‘Be Fit Kit’. - Kirk Starratt

Annapolis Valley Regional Library’s sport program kits rent out for three weeks, just like books

ANNAPOLIS VALLEY, NS – Getting kids’ literate in getting active is the goal behind a new and improved version of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library’s Be Fit Kits program.

The organization has just received funding for a second launch of the program, which makes bundles of sports-relating items available for kids and parents to take out from a library, just like a book, and use them to get moving.

The first round of kits was launched in 2015 and was hugely successful, according to program creator Angela Reynolds, who is also the Community Engagement Coordinator, but she says there is still room for improvement.

“We wanted to narrow our focus a bit with this new launch, and to try something different,” she said.

Anna Sherwood, regional physical activity coordinator with the Department of Health and Wellness, plays with the foam number and activity dice with daughters Hilary and Lilly.
Anna Sherwood, regional physical activity coordinator with the Department of Health and Wellness, plays with the foam number and activity dice with daughters Hilary and Lilly.

Original kits were in large duffle bags and featured a wide array of items relating to dozens of different activities. The new ones, designed by Reynolds in partnership with Sport Nova Scotia and the province’s Communities, Culture and Heritage department, are smaller, easier to carry and more focused on specific activities like running, yoga, dance and throwing.

“The original kits were targeted at learning those physical literacy skills for younger kids, and these could be for older kids and even adults,” she said.

“Obviously they’re still designed for older people to use with younger kids, but these new ones are more flexible.”

Just like books, the kits are loaned out for three weeks. Each comes with its various activities, along with a book to be read and to inspire those using the tools to get active and have fun.

Another aim of these new kits is to connect youth with sports relating to the bag they’ve checked out. The throwing bag, for example, could lead to kids playing basketball, baseball, and a variety of other sports.

“These kits will basically act as an introduction to that skill,” said Reynolds.

These, combined with the variety in the old kits, will ensure families have lots of choice when choosing which to check out, and how they want to use them.

Reynolds said since the original 2015 launch, kits have been taken out for a variety of uses – a single family playing together, or a group of kids gathered at a birthday party.

“There’s such versatility to these kits. We had so many people come in and talk with us about how they used these – even daycares would take the kits out to use, or people going camping,” she said.

Items found in the original “Be Fit” kits.
Items found in the original “Be Fit” kits, which include books, scarves, and bouncing balls.

Planning for these new and improved latest was announced Jan. 15, after a total $4,250 in funding from the province, Sport Nova Scotia, and the Active Kids Healthy Kids in Annapolis County and East Kings.

The Annapolis Valley Regional Library and libraries in Halifax were the first to launch the program in 2015, with libraries across the province quickly following suit.

“It shows we’re on to something with this. It was so cool to see that happen, and I’m excited for more kids across the province to have access to these tools,” said Reynolds.

An official launch is expected for March Break of this year, so the kits can be out in full force to ensure kids stay active over the break.

New kits, along with the old ones, will be held at the Kentville Library, Berwick Library, Windsor Library, Middleton Library and Annapolis Royal Library.

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