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Education Matters

After the Bell Rings

August 28th, 2013

Photo by Dawn Booth

Local Programs Enhance Life Skills for the Fort McMurray Youth

By: Dawn Booth

Parents want the best for their children and helping them make good life choices are not always easy. Even though many parents have assurance knowing their child is being properly educated during school hours, it’s beyond the classroom where things can often get muddled.

Fortunately, the community offers an array of afterschool programs to help children learn important and essential skills to improve their quality of life by providing them with many options to build self-confidence, improve their body development, even save their own life and the lives of others.

Zumbatomic® - Building self-confidence

Zumbatomic® Instructor Roxanne Oliver knows the importance of children adapting a healthy confidence. Once a shy and insecure person who didn’t even want to talk to waiters, Oliver has taken control of her personal fears through Zumba® classes and is now encouraging children to do the same.

“It has changed my life,” Oliver said about instructing the dance fitness program. When she first started taking Zumba classes in 2010, Oliver said she was nervous about participating, but quickly got over it because of the motivational instructor and other Zumbaians.

“I was so nervous. I never liked group fitness, but I grabbed a bunch of friends and went. Amanda (Weger, a local Zumba® Instructor) and the other people there were so encouraging… like family.”

Two years later in April 2012, Oliver decided to take on her life changing role of being an instructor. She travelled to Edmonton for Zumba® B1 training to become certified and later, took the Zumbatomic® training in Calgary on January 26, 2013.

On taking the Zumba® Instructor Network steps, Oliver said, ““I wouldn’t, in a million years, think I would do something like this.”

Oliver explained, how even though she was discouraged of calling herself an instructor because of her weight, she wanted to encourage young people to have a positive outlook on their body image and show them how exercising through Zumba® is far from boring.

“I first wanted to instruct for children because of the non-judgement. Zumba taught me that it isn’t about the size of shape you are. It’s about moving and having fun,” she said. “I want the children to know exercise is fun.”

Zumbatomic® is a Zumba® class specifically designed and modified for children. And according, “it’s a great way for children to not only be physically active, but learn functional, social and confidence building skills in a safe, positive environment.”

Aside from adapting various skill building activities through movement, Oliver explains how children are exposed to different cultures in an exciting learning environment.

“We talk about different cultures because of the Latin music. They learn the terminology of the dance move and the country where they are from,” she said. “They are singing and it’s not in English, but they have so much doing it.”

Starting as of September 2013, Oliver will be teaching her third Zumbatomic® Little Stars program in six week sessions for children aged 4 to 8 years old throughout various locations in Fort McMurray. The programs hold up to 15 participants for each class schedule and will continue during the 2013-2014 school year.  To learn more information on or to schedule a class, contact Roxanne Oliver online at

Young Aquatic Club – Life saving techniques

According to Canadian Red Cross, more than 570 children drowned in Canada through 2001 to 2010 and only 3 per cent of children who drowned were identified as strong swimmers.

Founder, Director and Level 3 Head Coach of the Young Aquatic Club (YAC) Carla Young knows being a strong swimmer can help save lives. In May 2012, she formed YAC at MacDonald Island Park to offer the Fort McMurray community a one-of-a-kind positive learning environment to showcase life-saving techniques and long-term athlete training opportunities in the water.

“I decided to start my own swim club with my own philosophies and offer the community something a little different. This is my way to give back and put my energy where my passion is,” said Young. “From one to 100 (years in age), I wanted something to accompany everyone.”

YAC offers a wide variety of all-aged programs and hundreds of participants have taken part in the club since the beginning. The YAC Afterschool Programs are specifically designed based on the age of the individual and their long-term athlete development. These programs include the basic fundamentals of swimming, fitness training and competitive training.

Involved with aquatics for 26 years, Young (a master instructor for Red Cross and volunteer for Swim Alberta NCCP) explains how the programs are not focused on water safety, but more of teaching the youth how to be strong in the water.

 “The afterschool programs are based on being a strong swimmer. I fully, one hundred percent, encourage them (the children) to keep Red Cross classes throughout the swim programs, but I don’t teach water safety,” she said. “I teach them to be smart around the water, strong in the water and have really strong swim abilities.”

Many local athletes benefit from YAC’s programs and Young explains how it’s crucial for children to cross-train land sports with swimming because it’s the only sport that gives the body a full fitness exercise.

“Swimming forces you to use every single muscle in your body and it develops double the lung capacity, than any other sport,” she explains.  “On land, you can feel your body, but it’s hard to feel it in the water. This is why swimmers have such a benefit and are good at other sports because they have such good body awareness.”

The Young Aquatic Club has ongoing programs throughout the year. Afterschool programs are set scheduled for the Fall. To view the YAC 2013-2014 Competitive and Fitness schedule, go online to the club’s official website For more information on other programs available through YAC or if you have questions regarding to the club, contact Carla Young at or call 780-880-5058.

“After the Bell Rings” will be continuing this series focusing on local afterschool programs. Check in September for the next program featuring children adapting self-defence skills through martial arts.

Dawn Booth is a Humber College Bachelor of Journalism graduate, Co-founder, Editor & General Manager of SNAP Wood Buffalo, who is Ottawa Valley born and happily raising a family of two boys with her husband in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Follow her on Twitter @DMLB724.

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