Learning to Skate SportWORKS – Sport for Newcomers Initiative
March 2, 2020 – Ottawa – Another month has passed and things are picking up here in Edmonton! We are just about reaching the halfway point of the pilot project. We are happy with what has been accomplished so far, and are looking forward to all that is planned in the near future.
An exciting event that took place this month was a session with the settlement staff here at Action for Healthy Communities (A4HC). I was able to present to the staff on an introduction to sport in Canada, and specifically in Edmonton. We discussed the barriers that newcomer youth face, and also a lot of the resources that exist to help remove those barriers. We talked about how we can work together to educate and inform newcomer families about the sport system in Edmonton and how to access it. We held this session as a way of building capacity at A4HC so that their staff could become more educated in sport and so that they could have access to resources that will help newcomers access sport now and in the future. As we continue to work together with the staff here, we hope to help them become advocates for sport and the positive impact it can make in the lives of their clients.
Things are continuing to go well for the A4HC Newcomer Youth soccer team as they compete in their indoor season. The boys have had a lot of success, including an impressive 12-1 win in one of their recent games. The feedback from these boys is always positive and they tell us how they just want more opportunities to play. As the registration deadline quickly approaches for the outdoor season, we have been working towards getting each player registered so that they can have another season to play. A goal of the pilot is to assist with building relationships between the Newcomer Service Organization (A4HC) and sport community organizations, with funding now from KidSport and Jumpstart charities we are able to register the team without the significant financial burden falling on the players and their families. We look forward to the last few games of the indoor season, and hope for a successful playoff run!
One of the highlights this month was helping some of the newcomer youth attend the Learn to Skate program! This is a free drop-in program being run by the City of Edmonton where kids in the community can come to their local outdoor ice rink to receive skating instruction and learn how to have fun on the ice.
The weather in Edmonton is a little unpredictable in January, so the first two weeks of the program were cancelled due to the severe cold weather (-25 and colder!). Thankfully, it eventually warmed up and we were able to help around 40 newcomer youth participate in the program at 3 different locations. It was a great experience for the participants to come out to their community rink and receive instruction from trained coaches. For many of these youth, it was their first time putting on a pair of skates and their first experience on ice. The youth were brave and eager to keep trying, even after having a few falls. A lot of fun and learning took place!
Through the partnership we’ve created between our host organization Action for Healthy Communities (A4HC) and Sport Central, we were able to outfit around 45 youth with hockey skates and helmets so that they could participate in the program! The youth were so happy to have the opportunity to try a new sport, especially one that is authentically Canadian!
Once the youth participate in the program for a couple of weeks, our hope is that they’ll be able to go skate with their friends and families at their community rinks whenever they want. Learn to Skate is a program that runs annually and we hope that the youth will be able to participate for years to come. Sport Central allows clients to trade in their equipment for bigger sizes as the kids grow, so we hope that even next year they will have access to a pair of well-fitting skates. One of our main objectives of this pilot project is to create connections and programs that are sustainable once the pilot completes. Our partnerships with Sport Central and the City of Edmonton are helping to ensure that these opportunities will also be available next year. The connection between A4HC and Sport Central is valuable because it opens up the opportunity for A4HC to refer youth to Sport Central in the future so that they can have access to free sporting equipment.
Upcoming plans include a girls basketball program and a ‘Try Badminton’ workshop. We are in the process of securing gym time for these sessions, and working with partner organizations to finalize the details and dates of the events. We are very excited and will give a full update next month. That’s all for now!
Commonwealth Games Canada SportWORKS Officer
Sport for Newcomers Initiative (Edmonton)
ABOUT COMMONWEALTH GAMES CANADA
Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) is the franchise holder for the Commonwealth sport movement in Canada. CGC supports Canada’s athletes to achieve excellence at Olympic and Paralympic Games and world championships, enriches the lives of youth across the Commonwealth and hosts the Commonwealth Games. Visit www.commonwealthgames.ca for information.
ABOUT CGC’S SPORT FOR NEWCOMERS INITIATIVE
In addition to its international programming, a new focus of CGC’s development through sport shifts home to Canada, with its “Sport for Newcomers” project – designed to reduce or eliminate selected barriers to newcomer youth sport participation and enhance the capacity of Newcomer Service Organizations in Canada. Starting with two pilot projects in Edmonton and Toronto, CGC expects that the initiative will lead to increased sport frequency rates and retention of young newcomers to Canada.