Written by: Kalena Soehn, SportWORKS Officer, Sport for Newcomers Calgary
It has now been a week since I officially ended my SportWORKS Officer placement with Commonwealth Sport Canada and the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary. During this time I have been thinking of how to describe my time working to create events and behind the scenes documents that will help to enable Newcomer youth, especially girls, to access sport a little easier with the goal of barrier free programming.
My 8 month placement was started while restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic were still prevalent. This meant my first 2 months were focused on preparing for when we able to start events, this ended up being at the end of January where I was able to host the first of 14 events, a Badminton Try-Day. The Badminton Try-Day was in my opinion one of the most important events, as I had the most trouble planning and executing it. I was able to learn a lot from that first event and the rest of the events until the end of May went smoothly and the kids happiness was able to be the main focus. I went on to plan 2 full weeks of programming at the Genesis Centre. The first week featured a mixed gender Newcomer sport opportunity where they would try 2 sports each day of the week on a drop in basis. The second week offered Newcomer girls only programming with the same 2 sports a day. The girls only week, the coaches had some scheduling conflicts so I got to coach badminton and basketball, in hindsight I should’ve cancelled the programming that day, but it was very worth it to see how happy the girls were when I handed out to each of them their own badminton racket donated by the KidSport Flames Sport Bank.
The final month of my placement featured my busiest schedule. There was sport programming every weekend. At the start of the month we started a Newcomer Gymnastics 3 week program at the University of Calgary Gymnastics Centre. The end of this 3 week program ended the last weekend of May. Also on the last weekend of May, at the Centre for Newcomers we had a S4N Celebration Event where the kids were lucky enough to hear a speech from Erica Wiebe, an Olympic and Commonwealth Champion in the sport of freestyle wrestling. The next day after this we started a 2 class swim lesson at the University of Calgary Swimming Pool. To end out the weekend and final sport programming opportunity planned by me was the Newcomer Gymnastics class. As I am an elite gymnast myself I was able to reach out to the Alberta Gymnastics Federation, who were able to donate 20 stuffed Roland (their mascot) monkeys for all of the kids to take home. This was the cherry on top for all the kids who left the day with huge smiles on their faces.
Overall my experience getting to work with Newcomer youth, especially girls, in Calgary was a great time. My favourite part of this placement was getting to see that I had made a positive impact on the kids and helped to inspire sport participation at all levels. Erica Wiebe was able to inspire a few kids at our S4N Celebration Event to potentially take up the sport of freestyle wrestling, “I see some future wrestlers… but I also see some really big futures!” (Erica Weibe, 2022). I really hope I was able to create a lasting sport imprint at the Centre for Newcomers, but more importantly, I am beyond happy I was able to create smiles among the Newcomer youth who came to the events.