What it means to volunteer with BOKS
We all get to that place in our lives when we start to think about giving back. For some it starts as teens, helping with younger children or modeling our parents and role models, and helping their causes. For others, it can start later in life, once children have grown or workloads soften. No matter where or when the desire to volunteer starts, it comes from the fact that we have an innate sense to serve. When we serve or volunteer, it adds to the security of the community. Skills are learned, confidence is gained, lives are enriched and it creates a passing forward effect in that others may be inspired to serve their communities as well. When we serve some facet of our community, we also benefit individually.
Opportunities to volunteer are not often placed in our laps that offer an entirely turn-key approach. Finding a way to volunteer and diving head first into that space can be a challenge. BOKS (Build Our Kids’ Success) Canada offers a unique opportunity to volunteer by engaging school children in physical activities. As a BOKS Trainer, devoting time will ultimately give back to you. Trainers are injecting physical activity into their own days by leading, demonstrating and even participating in the bevy of skills and games BOKS offers. This undoubtedly provides a physical and mental boost to the BOKS trainer. The training environment is entirely fun and allows a unique opportunity to mentor and positively affect children. Not just with the physical benefits of activity, but also by bolstering confidence.
It is entirely likely there is some connection for the Trainer to the school, most often in the case of having their own children attend the school and participate in the BOKS sessions. This provides a whole new benefit to volunteering in that it gives those Trainers the opportunity to spend more time with their own kids and have their kids inspired in seeing their parent(s) as Leaders. It is a natural Role Model opportunity that connects those leading on a higher level to their kids and to their school. There is also the direct effect that engaging and immersing children in BOKS has on conversations, choices and lifestyles. Trainers often speak of continued actions and discussions back at home. Games, nutrition advice, and leadership skills are often transferred back to the household environment.
One of our trainers commented on this exact experience, “my daughter asked for a healthy snack of yogurt with strawberries and granola the very same day that we talked about healthy choices and snacks during the BOKS bit. She (age 6) also asks us to check food labels (at least 2 or 3 times per week) to make sure there is less than 12 g of sugar in the item. This is another concrete example of how she is absorbing and transferring what she hears during BOKS bits.”
The connection to the school also strengthens this micro-community by providing additional resources in the form of physical activity. These are minutes and eventually hours that these children would not have otherwise participated in physical activity, as BOKS does not compete with the curriculum, nor does it replace daily scheduled physical education. While kids may be active on their own during the times BOKS sessions are running, the sessions provide a fully supervised, safe environment for kids in an indoor or outdoor setting.
Serving the community in the school setting with elementary children may ultimately have the greatest effect on the future of social infrastructure. Much like similar previous campaigns like smoking cessation, wearing seatbelts, anti-bullying, and recycling; setting the tone with our kids and making standard behaviours as the norms, will ultimately create the greatest change in our culture. Making exercise and daily physical activity a norm can be one of the most impactful volunteer experiences that one can ever have.
BOKS Regional Coordinator for Atlantic Canada and as well BOKS Trainer Volunteer and Role Model to my kids!