Lisa Bowes' career has taken her all over Canada and the world.
As a television sports journalist, anchor and producer on various levels, she has done some amazing and fulfilling work from covering sports for Calgary CTV, all the way to the Olympics and some Canadian Screen Awards nominee level sports documentary work for the CBC. She has also spent time with SportsNet.
Her latest project, however could easily be argued to be her most important.
The self-described “physical literacy advocate” is a grad of Western University where she earned her Physical Education degree. With all of this experience and training, she has written and created along with illustrator James Hearne, the Lucy Tries Sports book series. The series currently stands at five: Lucy Tries Luge…Short Track (speedskating); Basketball, Soccer and Hockey.
The basic scenario in the series is that the main child character Lucy, because of different ordinary life scenarios anyone would live through, attempts to play a sport. She and her friends get involved. Sometimes she and her friends love the sport, other times it isn’t for them. The point isn’t about learning what luge is or how to play better basketball, but for the reader to understand courage, perserverence and effort. These are life skills which lead to self confidence and self empowerment.
It all stemmed from her work at the Olympics in Vancouver. She was trying to find something for her two and a half year-old daughter to look at.
“I was looking for something for her to read and there wasn’t much,” Bowes explains. “So I looked at it as an opportunity to create something and engage and prepare parents for that time when their kids want to try something (like sports or other activities).
“It all happened as a progression and everything in my career led me to do these books.”
Bowes herself is a testament to Lucy’s resilience and diligence. Bowes really seven years with 14 book rejections despite all of her experience and enthusiasm.
While writing books on the surface may seem a lot different than writing for television, the basis was there. Coupled with all her obvious knowledge and major passion for, Bowes saw this as a way to not only encourage young girls to not be afraid to try something new but for all children.
The biggest different was her ensuring that each section of the ok had 5-6 syllable rhymes in it which adds to its distinctiveness.
It works perfectly as her efforts touch on all facets of child development including reading, getting active and building self esteem.
Lucy Tries Sports book series is a part of Siksika reading program which was started by SN7 a group of young leaders who look after various cultural, sports and academic programs on the Siksika Nation.
Rilee ManyBears, one of the workers of SN7 is friends with Bowes had her on as an Siksika Recreation Instagram live chat guest for the Siksika Nation families. They had a chance to familiarize themselves with each other at the 19th Anniversary of the Siksika Health Fair. He was impressed and along with Tyler White - CEO of Siksika Health Services, who is friends with Bowes, set up a plan to have Bowes be part of the SN7 initiative for this summer. So for August, Bowes has come to the Gleichen-area to
“Lucy is a great character, she is trying new sports, she is trying new things,” explains ManyBears adding this gives the Siksika youth the mentality that they can try anything. “They are great books, they have so much diversity: ethnic and otherwise.”
He hopes to work with Bowes more in the future and will be at Siksika Nation one day a week in the remaining portion of August.
Bowes plans on expanding the Lucy series and the resource in the future.
As part of a kid casters segment she did, she worked with the Calgary Board of Education in 2005 and worked with young students and found a good fit for Lucy. She does a lot of school presentations hence her work with Siksika.
She notes that while her degree is in physical education and she has all the experience in sports journalism and has endless contacts, the Lucy Tries Sports books are built on the principles of High Five. High Five, a Canadian organization that provides standards for children’s recreational programs. According to its website, “Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) founded HIGH FIVE® in 2001 after years of research. PRO's research projects help to inform its quality standard and strengthen HIGH FIVE's training, tools and resources to be on trend with current information about healthy child development.”
High Five recommends that sports programs include:
-A caring leader who provides supportive relationships that help children develop positive social skills, self-esteem, and self confidence.
-The opportunity to make friends: Positive peer interaction through environments that foster inclusion, acceptance, the opportunity for fun in constructive play, and the opportunity to develop and practice pro-social skills.
-The opportunity to participate in ways that allow children to make choices, have a voice, and do things by and for themselves.
-The opportunity to play in a way that emphasizes fun, creativity, co-operation and imagination; and play that develops motor and social skills, cognitive function, and creativity.
-The opportunity to achieve mastery of activities and tasks through rich content-based learning with structured and unstructured strategies.
Bowes indicated a lot of concern over the state of physical activity amongst youth. She cites the well known Canadian non-profit group ParticipACTION, and its studies about a lack of activity for Canadian youth. The latest Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth found “only 4.8% of children (ages 5-11) and 0.8% of youth (ages 12-17) were meeting 24-hour movement behaviour guidelines during COVID-19 restrictions, compared to the 15% (5-17 years) prior to the pandemic. 62% of kids and teens were being less physically active outdoors. 79% of kids and teens were spending more leisure time on screens.”
Bowes wants to be part of the solution and more will be forthcoming from writing.
“The benefits of sport and mental health are there as are the spiritual and mental aspects,” explains Bowes who encourages parents to “be active with their kids.”