Physical education schoolteacher walks the fitness talk in Dubai
To get her students active, several different activities and sporting events have been made available for them.
Originally published Nov. 6, 2018 in the Khaleej Times.
By Sarwat Nasir
A physical education teacher is hoping the Dubai Fitness Challenge will make exercise a habit for her students and not just a school subject.
Jill Clegg, a PE teacher for 12 years, leads by example as she has already completed three full marathons and 15 half marathons, as well as the Half Ironman Triathlon. She has accepted the Dubai Fitness Challenge and has inspired her students to also go for it.
“It’s extremely important to be an active role model and lead by example for my students. They see that I’m involved in different races and it kind of inspires them. I’ll never forget when I ran my first marathon and one of my students came in with a newspaper, highlighting my name and my timings,” Clegg said.
She teaches over 150 students in six different classes at Gems Dubai American Academy; however, she was surprised when she learned none of them rode a bike or walked to school.
“As a physical education teacher, I believe it’s important to get everyone active and moving as often as possible,” Clegg told Khaleej Times. “A lot of people in Dubai are very stationary. I’m Canadian, so back in Canada, you can walk or bike to work. I took a survey of my students and not one of them walked or biked. They all came by bus or cars. So, when they come to school and sit in a classroom for eight hours a day, I think it’s important to give them an outlet to get them moving.”
To get her students active, several different activities and sporting events have been made available for them. On Tuesday morning, a staff-and-student exercise event was held to get everyone in the school community up and moving.
Clegg believes the fitness challenge events are making positive changes in the behaviour of her students, as she sees them exercising quite often.
“Right now we have kids here at 6-7am – they’re on the football field or the running track, or playing basketball. There are after-school activities, too. I find that more kids are accepting the challenge, getting involved, and tracking their own fitness on the app.
“This morning, we had a really big event where we got all of the elementary students dancing on the field. Then we had Marcus Smith, who’s running 30 marathons in 30 days, run the track with our cross-country team. We have swimming, spikeball, boot camp and all sorts of different activities,” she said.