Ready, Steady… Get Active!

By Hannah Luginsland

One writer from Talk Magazine spent a day as a volunteer for Active Kids and looked at some of the different programs they offer for keeping your child active.

The summer holidays passed by all too quickly, and since the kids have been back at school, they’ve been restless. After all, they spent the summer running round, burning off steam, and now they’re confined to the stuffiness of their classrooms for umpteen hours a day, with limited time outdoors.

Enter Active Kidz Shanghai (AKS), a community based organisation with campuses in Puxi and Pudong that organises swimming camps, football camps, baseball training and much more throughout the year for children from the ages 4 - 15. AKS has been well known in the Shanghai community for a while now, but spending a day as a volunteer was an exciting opportunity to learn firsthand about what AKS really does, and what not only kids can learn from joining one of their clubs, but also what young professionals can learn by taking on a role as a volunteer.

For very little ones there are a range of fun camps, but older kids can learn how to swim, develop teamwork through activities like football and also practice tennis with fully professional coaching, since the premium Asia tennis academy CETA ( also works closely with them.

“The kids can train and learn without noticing, and have fun doing it,” says Laura Paquereau, a French woman, saying what she likes most about working as a volunteer at AKS. And walking around the grounds of AKS’s Puxi campus that much becomes clear; seeing the children running round on the fields and having fun proves the best and nicest first impression that you could ask for.

Though it’s also the brand new buildings, football fields, tennis courts and swimming halls that provides a certain sense of awe. “We always keep improving,” says Conrad Singh, President of the tennis academy CETA, proudly. “[AKS] extend the facility whenever it’s possible; a few years ago it was just a small grounds whereas now it includes everything you can wish for. “The next thing we’ll build is probably a hall over the tennis court.”


In my role as a volunteer, I came to understand quickly that organising a program for hundreds of children is a tough job. Being a teacher, friend, trainer and minder of a bunch of kids is something only the best can do. Not only having the skills counts; you also have to have a great, motivating personality. But by putting the work in, it’s worth it to see the little ones having so much fun and increasing their abilities by the hour. Even though I was only at AKS for one day, when I stood there at 3pm, with 20 children around me, smiling and laughing, I felt that in a small way, I’d made the world a little better.

And although being outside and running round is great, kids don’t need to be super sporty to have fun with AKS. My day as a volunteer at AKS may have been a physically challenging one but AKS also teaches cooking, art and motor-skill classes, which are available for the less active kids out there.

I had a really exciting day, and I’ve certainly been inspired to one day become a volunteer. School can be really tough for children in China, and it was a great way to spark some fun and creativity in the children that I met, to make them feel that life is not just long hours spent in a classroom, and doing homework. And what’s more, it’s a great place for children and volunteers alike to make friends. 

Kids have a great way to spend their weekends doing something that has an effect on their social behaviour and ability to learn. And who knows, maybe they’ll even find out they have a hidden talent for tennis.

Active Kidz Shanghai Puxi. Rm 601, Taihong Building, 3211 Hongmei Lu, near Chengjiaqiao Zhi Lu. Tel: 6406 6757.
Active Kidz Shanghai Pudong. Ramada Plaza, 18 Xin Jinqiao Lu, near Biyun Lu. Tel: 3872 6771. Web:


During the summer I spent a day at one of AKS’s Summer Sports Camps. My experience as a volunteer was a challenging one, but a fun and fruitful one at that!

9am: I start the morning helping a volunteer called Cinto Casanova with a two hour swimming class. Cinto spends two hours instructing a class of eight year olds, showing them the right moves and helping them to improve their swimming skills while I assist and provide encouragement. One little boy doesn’t think swimming is his best sport, but he’s trying really hard to catch up with the others and Cinto is encouraging him. 

11am: I meet Conrad Singh, the president, director and head tennis professional of the CETA tennis academy. He introduces me to some volunteers playing tennis with kids who are maybe only four or five years old, and learning to play tennis for the first time.

12pm: It’s lunchtime and everybody meets in the cafeteria, a huge new room with long tables. I sit with a bunch of kids who excitedly tell me about their morning’s tennis classes. I don’t know how they do it; I’d be so exhausted if I’d played tennis the whole morning, but they can’t wait for the next activity!

1pm: We go to the gym, where I join two volunteers and about 20 kids for some teamwork exercises. During the first 10 minutes the kids can just play and so I play football with a group of children. But then the volunteers put them into different groups to do races, and everybody is excited because they want their team to win!

1.30pm: Cinto Casanova and Laura Paquereau show me a class of motor-skills training with some of the smaller kids (3 - 5). They build up a circular obstacle course, where the kids have to climb, jump, crawl under things and do rolls.

2pm: I join a group of kids aged eight and older and we play tennis outside. The children are each watched carefully by their trainers and coaches.

2.30pm: For the last half an hour the kids get to jump in the pool and just play and enjoy the water with their friends.

3pm: A bus is waiting to take the children home to their parents. It was an exciting and challenging day for them (and me!) and now they can look forward to telling their mums and dads about what they did. It looks like everybody had a great day!

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