Alaskan Villages Project 


Once introduced to the sport, badminton continues to be identified as a physical activity a majority of students of all ages enjoy and wish to participate in during and outside of  school hours. 

This is an addendum to the report on the Badminton Goes Viral (BGV) Alaskan Villages  Project submitted to ANTHC in December 2021. Due to coronavirus conditions in  September 2021, one village was not able to allow BGV to come into the community.  This addition focuses only on the program in that village, Napakiak, and is the  conclusion of the BGV/ANTHC Villages Project planned in 2020 and postponed due to  the Covid-19 coronavirus and related complications. 

What Did BGV Do? 

One week was spent introducing badminton to all students and staff at William Miller  Memorial School in Napakiak. A special classroom schedule allowed grades  kindergarten through 12 to have five sessions of instruction. Training included basic  skills, game knowledge, court etiquette, safety and equipment care. After the fourth  session, students completed a participant survey. 

A staff presentation sharing multiple teaching resources and an active play session  were held one evening, but due to continuing Covid-19 constraints a program including  community members was not possible. 

What Were Student & School Reactions? 

Enthusiasm. As in the other participating villages, students and staff were highly  enthusiastic! Students requested and were allowed to play during breakfast and lunch  times after eating. Several students questioned whether they would be able to play  after BGV left the village and expressed a desire to play at their school and to compete  with other schools. They were very excited to learn that the equipment would stay at  their school and that three local communities, Napaskiak, Kwethluk and Bethel, were all  interested in competition outside their schools. 

Most staff members, several support staff employees and the principal took an active  part in classroom sessions. William Miller Memorial School principal, Sally Benedict,  and several staff members stated interest in a school competition or fun day with other  local villages, possibly in the next few months before the ice road is closed. Lower  Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins and Director of  Elementary Education Christina Powell Robbins both voiced support for this endeavor. 

Inclusion and Participation. All students from kindergarten age and older actively  participated in every badminton activity, although some of the younger children were Alaskan Villages Project 


shy at first. Of particular interest was a first grader in a wheelchair who was able to join in all of the racket control and hitting skills right along with her classmates with the aid of  her teacher. 

Community Connection. Although a meeting with the Tribal Council was not possible  due to Covid-19 restrictions, two local Alaskan Native school staff members were  directly connected to the Napakiak Tribal Council. One of the members served as an  aide with the kindergarten/1st grade class and was present at all class sessions for this  group. At the end of the week, BGV was able to connect with her to increase understanding and awareness of the overall badminton program and to explain the  possibility of a Tribal Council request for badminton through ANTHC in the future. She  stated that she would relay this information to the Tribal Council in Napakiak and to  other Councils with which she was familiar. 

Survey Results. Again, as expected based on results from other villages, students  expressed that badminton is fun and a desire to play more badminton.  • Badminton is Fun! 100% of students felt badminton is fun and 96% indicated  they met with success and would like to play more badminton. 

• Class Participation. Students were eagerly active in class activities. Rarely was  there a student who did not participate 100% of class time, although very young  students were sometimes hesitant at first. 

• Afterschool Badminton. A high percentage of students, 72%, disclosed they  would like to see badminton offered afterschool, with 79% of students indicating they would participate if offered. If the answer choice of ‘maybe’ is combined, the  percentages go up to 96% and 98% respectively… that’s a lot of students in the  school/community being active! 

• Badminton in other Communities. All students thought that badminton would be  or might be enjoyed by students in other communities. 

• Comments from Students: 

o BGV Favorites 

▪ 1st & 2nd graders: “We would like to play badminton as we grow.” ▪ 6 – 9 yrs. old: “I want to play all day every day.” 

▪ 10 – 14 yrs. old: “I want to play more.” 

▪ 15 – 18 yrs. old: 

• “Should do this more.” 

• “Best badminton teachers ever! Have fun!”  

• “I hope you both come back!” 

Sustainability in Napakiak. As with previous village schools, there were several staff  members who showed interest in continuing badminton in Napakiak. Grades 7 – 12  teacher John Leahy was identified as the lead to establish a badminton program at the  school. Backed by Principal Sally Benedict, teacher Alanna Spencer and  Superintendent Kimberly Hankins, the sustainability of badminton in Napakiak looks  strong. Alaskan Villages Project 


LKSD Coverage and Commitment. 

Director of Elementary Education for the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD),  Christina Powell Robbins, and a member of the District Communications team traveled  to Napakiak on the last day of classes to observe, take pictures and interview students  and staff about the Badminton Goes Viral program. Superintendent Kimberly Hankins  has expressed tremendous support for this program, pledging to help interested schools get the BGV program onsite and to support competition in the school district. An  article is posted on the LKSD website –


As with the other village schools, gym time/space and staff availability are the  challenges to work through in Napakiak. The best indicator that these challenges will  be worked through is the realization by administration and staff that badminton is a way  to encourage student engagement during the Spring months when attendance,  especially by older students, tends to decrease at their school. 

What we learned. 

School leaders are open to activities that involve large portions of the student population  and new ways to keep students interested and attending school. With continued  support from LKSD administration, badminton is a viable tool to keep youth engaged in  school and physically active. 

Based on the conversation with the Tribal Council member, the Badminton Goes Viral  program and badminton as a communal sport would be of interest to the community at  large. 

LKSD administrators continued to express interest in badminton program expansion  within the village schools participating in this project and to additional ‘cluster villages’  where local community members can be active together and compete with other nearby  villages. Superintendent Kimberly Hankins and Director of Elementary Education  Christina Powell Robbins are both committed to broadening the badminton program  within their district and to using this program as a way to work with village Tribal  Councils and school administrators to strengthen their ties and cooperative efforts. 

Looking Forward Alaskan Villages Project 


Once Covid-19 coronavirus conditions lessen and adults in the communities can be  involved, badminton is a tool to encourage cooperation between the school and the  village and to involve the adult members in an active sport. 

It is hoped that ANTHC and others can help Tribal Councils learn of the program’s  availability and continue to work with BGV in the future to engage more people in a  physical activity to improve health, wellness and fitness that youth have expressed they  can and want to play. Badminton Goes Viral is ready and eager to play a part in this  worthy endeavor in Alaskan Native communities.

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