'Let them cartwheel': northern Ontario mom speaks up about proposed ban

A mom in Callander, south of North Bay, Ont., says she is outraged that her daughter’s school is considering banning cartwheels on school property.
Stephanie Balen (right) has started a petition to protest a proposed ban against cartwheels at her daughter Grace's (left) school. (Stephanie Balen/supplied)

A mom in Callander, south of North Bay, Ont., says she is outraged that her daughter's school is considering banning cartwheels on school property.

Stephanie Balen says M. T. Davidson Public School has the rule listed in its draft-form student handbooks. That document will be voted on by the student advisory council in early October.

Balen's nine-year-old daughter Grace goes to the school and wants to be able to do cartwheels on the school grounds during recess.

Balen says it's important to stop the ripple effect before it gets out of hand.

"What if they try to do something else? What if they say you know, you're not allowed to run, you're not allowed to breathe, you're not allowed to laugh," she said.

Grace Balen attends M. T. Davidson Public School in Callander. (Stephanie Balen/supplied)

"If this is acceptable, where is the line? Anyone who hears about this thinks it's ridiculous and unacceptable."

Balen says she met with the school principal Thursday morning and says it was a positive meeting.

"I don't think he was looking at it from any other point other than he wants kids to be safer," she said.

Balen says the principal told her he still has to present the draft handbook to the student advisory council next month to be voted on.

Student safety 'top priority'

No one from the school or the Near North District School Board would do an interview with CBC on the topic.

However, board trustee David Thompson says there are concerns parents could take legal action if children are injured.

Several rules were included in the draft handbook, including no cartwheels. (Stephanie Balen/supplied)

"Whether it's cartwheels or any other physical activity, we live in a society where people like to sue and school boards tend to be one of those targets," he said.

"I don't think there's a school board in the province that wants to cut physical activity but because we live in such a society, we've got to look at issues and activities that could cause us lawsuits."

The board did issue a release stating that student safety is a 'top priority' on all topics, including out-of school trips to school uniforms to permitted school yard activities.

The board says other schools in the province have "cautioned students against certain gymnastic moves that may cause injury when done without the presence of proper conditions and adequate supervision."

It adds it encourages parents to discuss student safety issues "such as cartwheels" through the school's parent councils or their school's principal.

With files from Angela Gemmill and Wendy Bird


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