Experiential and community-engaged learning: Improving the health of Cape Breton Island, one fourth grader at a time

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Callary, Bettina
Maher, Patrick
This case study documents experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty from Sport and Human Kinetics (SPHK) courses at Cape Breton University (CBU). We explore ways in which learning opportunities created an impact on student learning and leadership. Students created sessions for a university led, community engagement program called ‘Youth in Motion’ (YiM). The program involves grade four students from every school on Cape Breton Island engaging in a half-day of physical activities. The university students were responsible for conducting thirty-minute sessions with each school group five times over the course of the half-day. First year course programming was more faculty structured, while third year programming was more student directed. Four students from each class, a fourth-year undergraduate teaching assistant, and the two professors involved in YiM were interviewed after the completion of the courses. Interviews were on average 15-30 minutes long and asked a series of questions that delved into the learning experiences of students and faculty involved in this initiative. Students were impacted by their YiM experiences in ways that influenced their understanding and leadership of developing fundamental movement skills and outdoor programming. Further, they learned unexpected lessons about communication, patience, and they noted that learning is fun! The professors noted that they could push the students’ learning further than they would in traditional pedagogies and that it was fun for them to be involved in too. There were also several stakeholder benefits. This case study has value for academic and non-academic audiences. Firstly, it provides examples of ways in which students benefit from community-engaged and experiential learning situations. It provides a model for how these experiences can be jointly organized by professors, community organizations, and the university. Further, for non-academic audiences interested in healthy leisure opportunities for children, this chapter illustrates how programs organized by trained and educated young adults may promote fun and motivating, physically active, and outdoor-friendly activities.
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