Joseph Naytowhow loves being active, playing sports, and just moving in his body. But those are just some of the reasons he loves being part of Growing Young Movers.
Naytowhow first got involved in the program when he met co-founder Brian Lewis at the University of Regina. He now serves as the program’s Knowledge Keeper.
“It immediately caught my interest because it’s young people and it’s cooperative games,” says Naytowhow. “I thought, ‘This is so beautiful that this is happening in this day and age.’”
Naytowhow was one of an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children who attended residential schools in Canada. He says growing up, play was often accompanied by violence.
“I was raised a little rough myself as a child,” says Naytowhow. “There was always potential violence in our play. [Growing Young Movers] is what I would have liked to see more of when I was younger.”
“GYM was perfect at the time that I came into it, because it kind of connected my past to the present,” says Naytowhow. “And it included something I learned a little bit later in life which was Indigenous culture, Indigenous songs, Indigenous stories.”
Naytowhow says it’s heartwarming to see the connection between the generations involved in GYM.
“When all of a sudden I see that come back into balance, younger teenagers looking after their little brothers and little sisters, they’re not related but they actually respect and honour these children,” says Naytowhow.
Naytowhow prides GYM for promoting cooperative play. He believes too often, games are about competition and not cooperation.
“Life is competitive enough as it is,” says Naytowhow. “You have to find a way to get things out of your system … to have fun without having to feel bad because you lost the game. This is something I’ve never seen over the years in phys-ed programs.”
“I’m really glad to still be here and be part of this project,” says Naytowhow.