Run Jump Throw Wheel: A Fun Approach to Structured Play
BY ALEX COFFIN
Run Jump Throw Wheel is a program that helps kids with different interests discover a feature that they find appealing in structured play. At the Saint John Regional Y, we currently have a drop-in program for all YMCA members on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. The Saint John Track and Field Club offers a Run Jump Throw Wheel program at UNBSJ on Mondays and Thursdays that requires a membership with the club.
Children ages 6 and up may participate in the YMCA program, and younger children may attend with parental supervision. The program is organized in two one-hour blocks but children have the option to participate for the full two hours. In this situation however, we usually finish with basketball or Zumba for the final 30 minutes, as two hours is a long time for structured play.
Run Jump Throw Wheel is based off the long-term athlete development model. The program is considered part of the FUNdamentals of track and field. Emphasis is spread as evenly as possible between the different disciplines; however, there is also a strategy that focuses on a variety of motivating factors.
Achievement motivated participants are given feedback on specific individual improvements. Affiliation motivated participants are given many opportunities for interactive style activities. Sensation motivated participants are given the opportunity to flow from one activity to another within a single session. Self-direction motivated participants are given leadership opportunities within the structured play format.
The FUN in FUNdamental is the most important aspect in my opinion. Improving skills is the byproduct but an emphasis is kept on enjoyable activities that allow each child to experience success and appreciate the process of getting there. Parents will value the improvement in self-esteem and the ability of their children to use the acquired skills for other activities. Track and field is the perfect foundation for most sports but it is also a simple way for children to appreciate a healthy and active lifestyle. Too often, children drop out of sport because they do not get to play regularly or because achievement is overemphasized.
With this program at the Saint John Regional Y, no commitment to practice or competition is necessary. A child does get recognized for regular attendance but there is not a penalty for poor attendance. There are also Run Jump Throw Wheel meets but these are not a condition of participating in the program. In the fall, we are also considering adding a Sunday session from 5 to 6 p.m., which would be partnered with a ball hockey program from 6 to 7 p.m.