Children in kindergarten and junior kindergarten are deemed too young to compete in the NWT Track and Field Championships, held each year in Hay River.

However, those young students still made it to the track at Diamond Jenness Secondary School for a mini-meet just for them on June 19.

Daxton Beck of Ecole Boreale sees how far he can throw a ball during a mini track event for students in junior kindergarten and kindergarten. Paul Bickford/NNSL photos

It was indeed a mini-meet with just two events – a relay race and a ball throw – after two other events were abandoned because of the high temperature on the field.

The mini-meet was the initiative of Donna Borchuk, the co-ordinator of the Leadership and Resiliency Program at Diamond Jenness.

She said a similar event for the young children was held two or three years ago under the guidance of two teachers at Diamond Jenness, who both had children in kindergarten at Harry Camsell School.

Borchuk decided to revive the idea of having a mini track meet for the kindergarten kids at Harry Camsell School so that they could learn about such an event and it wouldn’t be so strange for them in Grade 1 when they compete in the NWT Track and Field Championships.

It was a successful event two years ago, she said. “And we decided to revisit it this year.”

Like a couple of years ago, Borchuk had initially planned that the mini-meet would be only for children in junior kindergarten and kindergarten at Harry Camsell School.

However, four schools were represented – Harry Camsell School, Ecole Boreale, Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Hay River Reserve and Deninu School from Fort Resolution.

“That kind of happened by accident,” said Borchuk, explaining that the other schools heard about the mini-meet and asked if they could participate in the event, which had been originally set a week before it actually took place.

“I felt so bad that I didn’t think of them,” she said. “So I said, ‘Boy, if we do this next year for sure I’m going to contact you guys.’ And then we had to cancel because of the weather and I thought, well, I’ll contact them and see if people can make it. People kind of stood on their heads and they made it, and it was awesome.”

Elijah Engen of Ecole Boreale runs down the track in a relay race.

In all, about 50 children participated.

The leadership students in Grade 10 to Grade 12 at Diamond Jenness ran the mini-meet as part of their program.

“My leadership kids were amazing,” said Borchuk.

They were also assisted by some other students at Diamond Jenness and others from Ecole Boreale, along with help from some parents and grandparents of the students.

The young students first competed in a 50-metre relay.

“It’s a little bit of an organizational nightmare,” said Borchuk. “But the kids were really good. They were taking instruction really well. They were excited. They did so good. So next year when they have to line up at that start line (at the territorial championships) they’re going to be able to say, ‘Hey, I know this. I got it.'”

Afterwards, they all competed in ball throw.

The planned standing long jump and running long jump were cancelled because of the heat.

“It was kind of a game-day decision to cancel the jumping events,” said Borchuk. “The little kids didn’t know that that was part of the plan. So they were just happy.”

Brandie Miersch, a special needs assistant at Deninu School, said eight students in kindergarten were brought from Fort Resolution for the mini-meet and they all enjoyed it.

“It gets them ready and prepared for what’s going to be happening next year,” Miersch said of the NWT Track and Field Championships. “The whole staying in line, waiting your turn.”

She noted the students have already learned in school about staying in line and waiting your turn, but it will be different with so many athletes at the NWT championships.

“So once they’ve experienced it, now they know what to expect next year,” she said.

Lennox Colosimo, one of the students from Fort Resolution, said he enjoyed running and throwing the ball.

“I had fun at track and field here,” he said.

With the popularity of the mini-meet among area schools, Borchuk expects it will return next year.

“I think I don’t have a lot of choice in that,” she said. “It was just so hugely successful. The truth is I had a lot of fun. The kids had a lot of fun. So I cannot see why we would not do it every year.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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