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Sport Stacking introduced in Umkhumbane Schools Project

March 19, 2014

UKZN’s Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (BELS) together with The KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) are working together to produce well rounded learners from impoverished areas in Durban.

 

The Umkhumbane Schools Project is an educational outreach initiative sponsored by K-RITH through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and coordinated by Ms Martha Bishai. The project works towards improving opportunities and outcomes in math and science education in five secondary schools in the historic Umkhumbane/Cato Manor township area on the outskirts of Durban. The programme includes after-school tuition in mathematics, science workshops, on-site assistance and teacher-training with science practicals, and a variety of other academic enrichment initiatives focusing primarily on maths and science.

 

Since none of the five schools have structured physical education or sports programmes, UKZN’s BELS approached Bishai to discuss the possibility of establishing a physical activity programme as part of the community service offered by Umkhumbane.

 

Professor Andrew McKune, head of UKZN’s Biokinetics programme suggested the implementation of a Sport Stacking activity in each School. Sport stacking has been shown to have cognitive, academic, psycho-motor, behavioural and energy expenditure benefits for children and requires minimal space and equipment. McKune said, ‘A Sport Stacking programme would be a viable option to introduce into the schools. The schools, staff and learners are excited about participating in the programme and it has the full support of the Umkhumbane Schools Project’.

 

Sport Stacking, which is also  referred to as cup or speed stacking, is an individual and team sport which involves the stacking of specialized cups in a specific sequence – doing so as fast as possible. The sport is highly successful, having being practiced in 40 307 schools in 54 countries around the world.

 

Bishai explained at one of the workshops, her liking for sport stacking. ‘What I really like about the sport is that any kind of child, whether they are disabled, or those who don’t feel athletic, are able participate. It’s quick and easy to learn, and is also great because it improves hand-eye co-ordination. We found that it helped children to focus and do well on their tests at school, since the sport improved their concentration levels.’

 

Sport stacking promotes physical fitness as well as academic achievement through focus. With the sport stimulating both the left and right sides of the participant’s brain, levels of concentration are therefore higher in students and they are able to produce better results in their academic work. Another reason for the implementation of the sport was that ‘it requires minimal space and equipment, therefore, it was suggested that a Sport Stacking programme would be a viable option to introduce into the schools. The schools, staff and learners are excited about participating in the programme and it has the full support of the Umkhumbane Schools Project.

 

 

Grade 8 learners who participated were very excited and found the sport to be a fun challenge which they were all keen to master in the first workshop. 5 sports stacking workshops were held from 28 February – 8 March for students from each of the 5 schools, so that they could learn to cup stack and practice amongst their peers.

From March 10, two Honours students from Exercise Science were allocated to each respective school to become Sports Stacking coaches for each team or squad. For 5 weeks thereafter, there shall be 2 workshops held each week, each workshop being an hour long for the students to be coached further.

After 5 weeks of coaching, each school shall participate in an inter-school league where teams and individual students will compete. After the league, a final Championship day will be scheduled.

An educator from each school is required to be responsible for their SSP and help facilitate and sustain the activity as a school sport after the workshops are complete. The Umkhumbane Schools Project is an educational outreach initiative sponsored by K-RITH (KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV) through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

- Zakia Jeewa

Zakia Jeewa

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