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Performance gymnastics builds confidence while having fun

Gymnaestrada performanceDid you know that many of B.C.’s PLAY Gymnastics clubs offer non-competitive, group performance opportunities?

These groups, often referred to as Gymnaestrada, are a unique and fun way to perform gymnastics routines for an audience. And performance is an important part of a child and youth’s development.

Research conducted by the University of Maryland in 2007 showed that participation in performing arts is linked to positive outcomes in school, emotional development, family life and behaviour.

It also concluded that performance plays a central role in cognitive, motor, language and social emotional development. (1)

Groups thoughout the province take part in club and community performances and many attend official Gymnaestrada events.

What is a “Gymnaestrada”?

A Gymnaestrada features groups of gymnasts coming together to perform choreographed routines for an audience. There are also social and learning activities. 

Anyone of any age or skill level can take part; the focus is on mass participation and performance in gymnastics.

Often there is a theme which runs throughout the event. It may be regional, provincial, national or even international.

In B.C.  the provincial Gymnaestrada is the largest annual PLAY recreational gymnastics event. Between 400 and 500 recreational gymnasts come together to learn, share and perform.

Why Gymnaestrada??

Gymnaestrada is a perfect option for kids who love to perform, but do not want the pressure of competitions or who are involved in other sports and activities.

As children continue to spend an increasing amount of time in front of screens, performance gymnastics is a great way to get them out of the house and active!

According to Active For Life writer Sarah Smeaton, “the love of moving needs to be taught and encouraged, exactly the same way we teach and encourage our children to love to read.”  (2)

Although many children naturally enjoy being active and participating in various activities, for others, it doesn’t come so naturally.

That’s where Gymnaestrada can be the perfect activity. Performance gymnastics is a great confidence builder in kids. Performing in front of a group of people helps them gain confidence which transfers over to all aspects of their lives.

According to the Oakville Gymnastics Club, “When kids are confident, they believe in themselves and this benefits their mental and physical health, family relationships and performance at school.”  (3)

Through participation in performance gymnastics children and youth are exposed to a variety of new physical skills.  In addition to these physical skills, “they learn goal-setting, personal development, discipline and how to grow from failure.  All of these confidence-boosting abilities transfer well to school, social activities and other sports.” (4)

Get involved!!

Vancouver’s Britannia Gymnastics Club will host the 2014 BC Gymnaestrada. Taking place May 17-18, 2014, the theme is musical theatre – from Annie to the Wizard of Oz and from Grease to West Side Story and everything in between!

Britannia Gymnastics, located near Commercial Drive in historic Vancouver will showcase their “east side story”!

Mark the date now – and get ready for new and fun activities leading up to, and during the 2014 BC Gymnaestrada!

Contact your local PLAY gymnastics club to find out more about performance gymnastics opportunities .

10 active lifestyle tips for kids and teens

ParticipACTION, September, 2013, Catherine Cameron
I love working with kids, teens and schools to help get everyone moving more. It’s here that I often learn more about the barriers (or perceived barriers) that stand between people and active fun.

I often hear from adults that they have “no time,” “no energy,” and “no money to join a gym,” and from kids, I often hear: “my mom says it’s too dangerous to ride my bike,” or “I’m not allowed to play outside because there are “bad” people out there,” as well as “by the time I get my homework done, there’s no time left” or “I don’t have anyone to play with.”

Yesterday I saw a photo with a caption that read: “There’s no such thing as a child who hates to read: there are only children who haven’t yet found the right book.” I view active play and physical activity in much the same way.

In my view, there is no such thing as child who doesn’t like to play: there are only children who haven’t been introduced to or found the right game or sport, or for whom some sort of barrier has denied them access and opportunity.

I’m frequently asked to share tips to help get youth moving more. Today I’m sharing a list of 10 tips I’ve prepared specifically for children and teens… because they WANT to be more active than they are or than we enable them to be. Schools, community recreation centres, health and medical professionals, sports teams, and anyone interested in helping to get kids off the couch and into the game, can link to them here on our blog.

Kids & Teens: let the fun and games begin!
  1. Aim to get at least an hour of physical activity every day. It doesn’t have to happen all at once: even periods as short as ten minutes count!
  2. Participate in a variety of active games, activities and sports to work different muscles in your body. Soccer, swimming lessons, active games like tag and Red Rover, and cycling to school are just some of the ways to stay strong and have fun.
  3. Challenge yourself with new activities and sports. Never tried karate? Give it try! Want to play soccer? Join a local house league. Swimming is a life skill – so take some lessons and learn how. Discover the activities you enjoy most and invite others to give them a try too.
  4. Be active… and be a role model for others. When you choose to be active, you’re setting a great example for others – like your friends, brothers, sisters, teachers, parents… and even your grandparents!
  5. You don’t have to be the fastest or the best. If you’re having fun, it really doesn’t matter if you’re the fastest, the strongest or the best at something. Enjoy participating!
  6. Set goals for yourself – short, medium and long term goals. For example, if you plan to participate in a 5 km run, you might set a short term goal of running 1 km; a medium term goal of running 3 km; and a long term goal of running 5 km.
  7. Track your physical activity. Most people believe they’re much more active than they really are. Did you know that only 5% of Canada’s children and teens are active enough to meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines? It’s true. If you have a school planner, take a minute or two each day to add up and record your daily physical activity. You’ll quickly know if you’re getting enough physical activity or need a little more.
  8. Get to school the cool way! If you’re old enough and can get to school on your own, say “no thanks” to the offer of a drive from mom or dad and hop on your bike instead. Cycling, walking, boarding or blading are all fun ways to power yourself to school.
  9. Switch the screen for a little green! Instead of surfing the net, playing computer games, or texting with friends after school, shoot some hoops, go for a run, or enjoy a walk with your dog.
  10. To learn more about the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle, visit
Let’s help our kids play the way we used to!

Zippy's recipe of the month

After the big turkey dinner and the leftovers, it's time for a change of pace!

Zippy loves these shrimp tacos - they are tangy, sweet and just a little spicy!!

Citrus Shrimp Tacos

3/4 lbs shrimp (peeled, deveined)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup oranges (diced)
1 rainbow bell pepper (seeded, thinly sliced)
1 cup cabbage (thinly sliced)
1 avocado (diced)
1/2 cup pineapple (diced)
1 sweet onion (thinly sliced)
1 can low-sodium black beans (drained, rinsed)
4 whole wheat tortillas
1 Tbsp cilantro (minced)
1 tsp. no-salt seafood seasoning
2 cloves garlic (minced)

  1. Marinate shrimp in orange juice, lime juice and seafood seasoning in fridge 30 minutes.
  2. Mix oranges, pineapple and cilantro in small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add pepper and onion, and cook 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add cabbage and garlic, and cook 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add shrimp, and beans, and cook 4-6 minutes, or until shrimp turns opaque. Remove from heat.
  4. Fill each tortilla with shrimp/vegetable mixture, avocado and pineapple-orange salsa.
Recipe from Healthy Families BC

Coaches' Corner

Recreational does not = Non-Competitive!

Jeff Lulla, June 2004

Making Preschool and Recreational gymnastics successful for all kids requires removing all contests from the environment and never comparing one student to another.

This includes eliminating statements like "Who can be the first to line up?" or, "Who can do the best cartwheel?"

Instead, teachers need to learn to use non-competitive language like, "Line up as fast as you can," or, "Everyone show me your best cartwheel." PERSONAL BEST should become what is celebrated instead of better than others.

A learning environment that defines success as "personal best" doesn't guarantee that everyone "will" win. But it does guarantee that everyone "can" win.

[Read more]

Parent's Corner

8 ways to keep your daughter from ever saying ‘I suck at sports’

Sara Smeaton, October 10, 2013
When it comes to girls and sport there’s no doubt we have a lot to celebrate. But there’s also the disturbing reality that a lot of young girls still grow up thinking sports are not for them.

Look at any activity or sticker book aimed at girls and you’ll note the very short list of what girls are supposed to like versus the longer list of physical activities that show up in the boy’s version.

I’ve noticed that at a certain age girls start to say “I suck at sports” because that’s the equivalent of saying “I’m as feminine as the pink-cushioned carriage I rode in on”.

[Read more]

Upcoming PLAY events

Gymnastics BC Awards reception
Saturday, October 26, Burnaby

Sports Day in Canada
Saturday, November 30, Everywhere!

2014 BC Gymnaestrada
May 17-18, Britannia Community Centre, Vancovuer

Kids CanMove at B.C. Schools
Douglas College PE Conference – October 25

St. Francis de Sales (Burnaby) - December 2

Marley's October PLAY Gymnastics BC club

Selkirk Gymnastics Club

Marley's pick for the October PLAY club of the month is Selkirk Gymnastics in Castlegar.

Selkirk Gymnastics Club, located in beautiful Castlegar, in the Kootenay region of BC offers gymnastics programming for recreational athletes as well as competitive men's and women's artistic gymnastics.

Marley loves that the club is also very active in community programming. They are currently visiting the community of Slocan this October to deliver the Kids CanMove program! Great job!!

To have your club featured as Marley's PLAY Gymnastics BC club in an upcoming newsletter, send Marley a brief outline of your club's PLAY gymnastics activities.

PLAY time with Sammy!

PLAY is an important part of a child's development. And what's more fun than PLAYing a game in gymnastics class or with friends and family?

With the Olympics getting close, Sammy loves to PLAY games to cheer on our Canadian athletes!!

Bobseldding Bodies
(Reinforces the locomotion and stationary fundamental movement pattern)

Suggested Age: 7+ years


Minimum of six players in teams of three or four


This is a team relay which is best played barefoot.

Teams sit down in a line at a start line and each player (except for the first person in the line) wraps their feet around the waist of the person in front of them.

The finish line should be about 3 – 4.5m away from the start line.

When the instructor says ‘go,’ the teams must use only their hands to slide themselves towards the finish line.

If any team breaks apart, the students must rejoin each other and form a chain again before moving further. The first team to reach the finish line wins.
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