WEATHER ALERT

Former city sportscaster writes books to get kids moving

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A lightbulb went on as Lisa Bowes was preparing to call women’s hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

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A lightbulb went on as Lisa Bowes was preparing to call women’s hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Bowes, a sports broadcaster with CTV at the time, realized something was missing among the books she would often read to her three-year-old daughter.

“I was in this Olympic mindset and, at the same time, reading to my young child. I thought, ‘Hold on, I don’t really see too many books out there that are educating families about different types of sport,’” Bowes said, in a recent chat with the Free Press.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Former Winnipeg TV sports reporter Lisa Bowes with her book on Saturday. Lucy has tried luge, short-track speed skating, soccer, hockey and basketball, so far.

Three years after her epiphany, Bowes published Lucy Tries Luge, the first in what would be a series of Lucy Tries Sports books.

The publications follow Lucy, an empowered young girl, and her diverse group of friends, giving their best go at a new sport. Each book reinforces five principles of healthy child development that kids need to stay in sports: make a friend, play, participate, have an encouraging coach and master a skill.

Lucy has tried luge, short-track speed skating, soccer, hockey and basketball, so far. She’ll take some swings in April when the sixth edition, Lucy Tries Baseball, launches in English, French and Spanish.

The book targets children three to eight years old.

“As our children are learning to read, Lucy and her friends are inspiring them to try — to persevere,” said Bowes. “So, what I hope is that as a child and their parents and their caregivers are reading a Lucy book, they’re saying, ‘Wow, I actually want to try soccer. Can I go and try that, mom?’ So we’re putting the power almost in the hands of that young child to expose them to different types of sport and to create an action item.

“They’re a resource tool to inspire our kids to move, to be active and to persevere.”

The Lucy Tries Sports series is currently in hundreds of libraries and classrooms across the world and was even featured in a gift shop at the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The series has provided a full-circle moment for Bowes, who hails from Guelph, On., but lives in Calgary. Before she was a recognizable figure in sports television in Winnipeg in the 1990s, she was on a path to teaching. She finished a degree in physical education before making the jump to broadcasting.

“I’ve kind of come full circle on my degree because I really do care. I’ve become very passionate about trying to make a difference in these declining physical activity rates. And that’s what this book is addressing — a children’s health crisis, made worse from COVID,” said Bowes.

Indeed, a lack of activity among children is quickly becoming an epidemic.

Just 15 per cent of children ages five to 17 were meeting Canada’s 24-hour movement guidelines prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The Lucy Tries Sports series is currently in hundreds of libraries and classrooms across the world and was even featured in a gift shop at the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. (Supplied)

Since the onset of the pandemic, only 4.8 per cent of children ages five to 11 and 0.8 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 are meeting those guidelines. In Canada, Indigenous, coloured, and immigrant children and those with disabilities are at even greater risk of inadequate activity.

“Yes, it’s a sports book series, but there’s a lot of purpose behind it,” Bowes said. “I did a lot of research before I went into this process to make sure that we were on point in simulating what a young child would experience as they try sport.”

The series is just getting started, too. With no end in sight for the book line, Bowes said an animated series of Lucy Tries Sports is in the works.

“There are almost 200 sports in the world that we can try. I’d love to write Lucy’s Big Book of Sports and have it as a resource guide for all Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3 classrooms,” Bowes said.

“Lucy is for all kids, boys love her too. If kids can see it, they can be it.”

jfreysam@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jfreysam

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Joshua Frey-Sam

Joshua Frey-Sam
Reporter

Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.

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