SPRINGDALE, NL - There was laughter and excitement, screams and cheers at Indian River Academy Friday, and it was all in celebration of play.
The elementary school in Springdale was host to one of Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador's Play Days Dec. 8.
The provincewide, not-for-profit organization granted the Town of Springdale funding to host the special initiative, designed to celebrate play.
As classes poured in during intervals throughout the day, the excitement continued with students trying out different activities designed around sport and physical activity.
Students lined up in front of plastic bowling pins with a rubber bowling ball and did their best to roll strikes. There was no score taken, and the students cheered each other's successes.
They made their way through the obstacle course of hula hoops, mats, chairs, and scooter boards - the occasional glance was made during this one to see who had the lead, but most never took notice.
With the help of volunteers from the ICECAP Youth Centre, there were yoga poses, marches, stretches, two-person bicycle techniques, and many more physical fitness exercises at another station.
Further down the gym there were more conventional gym-class activities of hockey and basketball, located across from the makeshift curling set up - hurry hard indeed.
There were some large bouncey balls for some of the bigger students to have a go at, while everybody got to test their smarts with the scavenger hunt.
Aaron Wilcox, physical education teacher at Indian River Academy, said students at the K-6 school are active during gym classes, but also in an afterschool sports program on Thursdays. The ICECAP Youth Centre also offers an afterschool program on Tuesdays.
After being selected as one of the school to host the Play Day, Wilcox said it was important to make it fun for the students.
The day wasn't necessarily targeted for the sports-minded only, but to involve students of all athletic abilities and attitudes.
"It gives everybody an opportunity to have fun and take part," he said.
Organizers also made an attempt to promote healthy eating and living practices with the students.
Shauna Hewlett, Springdale's recreation, tourism and heritage director, said the town decided the school was the best environment in which to host such an event.
Indian River High will be hosting a similar event in the new year, and Hewlett said they are planning something for the area's senior population in the future.
"I think the people of Springdale are very active," she said. "Through the Town (of Springdale) - our municipality and our council - I think there is a lot of support for recreation and sport."
She said there are also a lot of volunteers in the town and schools to help further active living and sport.
"Anything like this that helps us educate and have people realize it's not just about sports, like hockey and figure skating," she said. "It is about playing with your family, building a snowman or going for a walk in the woods.
"As long as people are moving, that is what we are trying to have people realize too."
The smiles on the faces of the young students seemed to indicate the message was getting through.