Helping students down the right TRAILS

By Michael Grondin

Kinesiology students at the University of Calgary helped 70 Grade 7 students learn about leadership and community building through TRAILS — teamwork, respect, attitude, initiative, laughter and success. TRAILS was a day-long event filled with activities, workshops and games that occurred on April 6.

As part of Kinesiology 311: Leadership Foundations, 28 kinesiology students developed TRAILS as a year-end project in collaboration with Vincent Massey Junior High School. TRAILS helps Grade 7 students prepare for an Outdoor Leadership Program at their school.

Fourth-year U of C kinesiology student and TRAILS organizer Amanda Garner said her class prepared for the event for two months. She is excited that it all came together.

In Grade 8 at Vincent Massey, students are able to go on a 
seven-day camping trip where they must showcase their leadership skills. Garner said TRAILS helps students develop these skills.

“This is a preliminary event to see what these kids can do. We’re having fun and there is a lot of learning involved,” she said. “The kids are learning to work as a team, to co-operate and solve problems together.”

Garner said TRAILS was a good way to give back to the 

“I think it is really important because we are reaching out to the community and we are giving back,” said Garner. “We are building ties with a great school.”

Garner also said that the students had an opportunity to see what learning opportunities are offered at the U of C.

Kinesiology professor Janice Cook, who instructs Kinesiology 311 with Claire Mitton, said TRAILS has been an effective way for her students to receive hands-on practice with the skills they learn in class.

“Rather than just learning theory of leadership, the students actually get to practice leadership,” said Cook.

Cook said that TRAILS has been an important way for kinesiology students to learn how to collaborate and develop effective strategies as leaders.

“All of the students have had a significant role to play,” she said.

The events and games the Grade 7 students participated in had many different themes ranging from deserted islands to jungles. The students had to work as a team to solve puzzles and complete tasks.

Grade 7 student Taher Masoon was very excited about TRAILS.

“I’m having plenty of fun. There are so many cool activities that rely on leadership and people being responsible,” said Masoon. “We have learnt how to help each other in different ways.”

Vincent Massey teacher Court Rustemeyer was approached by the Kinesiology 311 class and asked to participate in the program. He said the event was a fun way for his students to learn about leadership and 

“I thought it would be a great chance for my Grade 7 class to get some hands-on experience with teamwork and leadership,” said Rustemeyer.

Grade 7 student Nigel Mustapha said he learned a lot about staying safe when he and his classmates are in tricky situations.

“We are learning to be safe when we are outdoors,” said Mustapha. “I hope that when I am older, I can do a lot of outdoor stuff.”

This is the first year of the event. Garner said it was a huge success.

“They come in as kids and by the end of the program they are young adults,” said Garner.

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