Rowena Deadman, Manager of Gym City Papatoetoe, recently returned from her trip to China after being asked back in January to run a two-week course for their Montessori Teachers College. The course took place at the International Training Centre of Montessori, where Rowena taught physical activities in the classroom, along with fundamental skills that fit into Montessori’s practical class module. “It really benefitted my own professional development. As much as we give to them, we always get just as much, or more, back from them” stated Rowena.
The Montessori module focuses on the formation of children’s fundamental capacities while incorporating tools that stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery. Through this program, children learn to grow as an individual through learning, physical activity, and socialising with their peers. “When children engage in physical activity, you really see the change in learning and behavioural skills. They become more successful and want to learn more” says Rowena. During her time in Hangzhou, Rowena led groups of students through a series of fundamental movement patterns, while incorporating gymnastics and physical activity in the classroom. “By incorporating gymnastics into the curriculum you are able to see the positive effects is has on children’s vestibular system and cognitive development” explained Rowena. Through this experience, Rowena was able to learn about the differences in lifestyle and culture, where children don’t always get the experience to play. By sharing her knowledge with the teachers, she was able to run classes that touched on the importance of moving around. “If you can inspire someone to move in a different way just by having fun, then they will do it more often” (Rowena).
Rowena kicked off her gymnastics career back in 1995 after her son was diagnosed with ADHD. “Gymnastics was a great way for him to burn off some energy, but I couldn’t be the mom that just watched. So I decided to become a volunteer” stated Rowena. Serving as a foster mother as well, Rowena stated that she saw many benefits arising from her foster children participating in gymnastics. In 2000, Rowena accepted a full time job at Gym City, where she focused on developmental programs for young children. Throughout her time there, she has made several trips to Tonga; helping to set up play gym preschool, along with conducting professional developmental sessions with the early childcare sector. As a professional in the child care sector, Rowena continues to share her knowledge with teachers around the world. Her hope for the next year is to engage more adults in gymnastics and also see progression in the Montessori school in Hangzhou. “If I don’t reach my goals, I change what I’m doing. If something goes wrong, I change it until it starts going right.” Rowena and the rest of her staff continue to excel through their teachings in overseas schools, along with the programs they run at Gym City Papatoetoe.