30 June 2020

Nurturing the Whole Athlete

Published by Stamford American School Hong Kong
Renovation-and-refit-projects

An important component of Stamford’s holistic approach to developing the whole child is the opportunity for students to participate in sports during their school life, and this includes twice-weekly Physical Education lessons and options for both skill-building and competitive sports in the after-school Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) program. 

Leading our team of experienced and dedicated PE teachers is Mr. Lee McQuade, PE Co-ordinator. His passion for sport developed as a child, playing Gaelic football in Ireland. From his first victory as a U12 player in his local team, Lee has gone on to play Gaelic football throughout his adult life, most recently representing Hong Kong in the Asian Gaelic Games in Kuala Lumpur.

“The game played a big part in developing both my sporting and social skills and I loved to play on a daily basis. Gaelic football provided me with transferable skills such as catching, kicking, tackling and passing, which helped me to play other sports. I now play lots of different sports including golf, soccer, basketball, badminton and table tennis.” - Mr. Lee McQuade

Q: In your opinion, how does culture affect the PE curriculum at a school?

Different cultures and communities place different values on sport and this plays a big role in our teaching and learning approach. In Qatar, obesity and diabetes were major community issues. Our PE program focussed on changing the mindsets of families and helping them to understand the long-term importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle for their children.

My experiences in Spain, however, were in complete contrast. Students there were exposed to sports from an early age and daily PE lessons were an established part of the school curriculum.

In Hong Kong, where space is an issue, finding ways to adapt and provide a range of sporting opportunities has been my goal. Learning how to modify PE and sports programs to a specific culture is very important.

Q: What do you consider is the true value of PE, apart from the obvious health benefits?

With an increasing emphasis being placed on technology in today’s world, PE is more important now than ever before. It is essential that students have the opportunity to get onto a field, a court or a pool and express themselves in a different way. Many students only get the opportunity to exercise through our PE lessons and CCA programs which makes those times extremely important and influential to their physical development.

Personalizing our program to individual student needs and skill-sets is central to our approach to physical education and we make sure that, above all else, every student enjoys our lessons. We aim to engage all students to instill a positive attitude towards sport and hope that children can find their passion and create a lifelong relationship with exercise.

When I think about the impact of our PE program at Stamford, one student in particular springs to mind. During their first year at our school, this student would often spend his time in PE lessons distracted, uninterested, keeping to himself and not interacting with his classmates.  Participating in the swimming CCA helped to build his self-confidence and gave him a different outlet to develop beyond academics. Now, two years later, he has a great group of friends who support him and is a much happier student. PE is not the only reason for his dramatic improvement but I do believe that it played a key role in the development of his social skills.

Q: This being your third year running the PE program at Stamford, how have we fared?

This year, the Stamford basketball, football and swim teams have been training and competing in inter-school competitions. The school’s association with both the Hong Kong School Sports Federation (HKSSF) and the Asia Pacific School Sports Organisation (APSSO) supports opportunities for students interested in a growing range of sports each year.

Recently I have noticed a change in the attitude to sports in the school with more students signing up for sports teams and sports CCA's. I feel our positive results in recent competitions have brought about this shift.

It was also extremely refreshing to see the high level of support and interest from parents to meet our PE Team at the recent parent-teacher conferences. The promotion of sport in our school has helped parents understand the benefits and there is a clear interest from both students and parents towards creating a healthy and long-lasting relationship with exercise.

Most importantly, the school administration is incredibly supportive in building an excellent sporting program and PE curriculum for students. Our sporting facilities and equipment is high quality and we want for nothing in terms of resources. We also have access to off-site PE spaces whenever we need it and we rotate our program regularly to ensure students enjoy different environments for PE. I consider myself to be extremely lucky to teach at Stamford!

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