I’m excited to give an update on the work that is going on here in Edmonton with the SportWORKS – Sport for Newcomers Initiative. We are now in month two of the pilot project and it’s been nice to see that progress is being made and plans are being put into action. We have lots of events (large and small) beginning in the coming weeks and months that we look forward to. A lot of this month has been planning out these events and identifying more of the details and preparation that needs to happen before these programs take flight! At Action for Healthy Communities (A4HC), our local partner, we’ve been fortunate enough to make some great relationships and connections with local sport organizations (LSOs) who are welcoming to newcomers and who will partner with us in the delivery of these programs and events. We anticipate the relationships made between A4HC and LSOs will continue on after the pilot completes to ensure continued opportunities are offered to newcomer youth.
One of the programs that is coming up next week is the Learn to Skate program, being put on by the City of Edmonton. This is a free drop in program where kids and youth can come to their local rink to receive instruction on how to skate and be active on the ice. The City is offering this program at around 40 community outdoor rinks around the city. It’s mainly focused on having fun and learning basic movement skills on the ice. We are so happy that many of the newcomer youth that we work with have shown interest in this opportunity. In addition to the fact that this is a free program being offered, we have also made a partnership with Sport Central, a local used sport equipment store that gives equipment to kids who come from low income families. Through the support of Sport Central, our newcomer youth are able to get a free pair of skates and a helmet so that they can attend the program and continue to skate on their own once the drop in program is over. We are excited for the youth to have this opportunity as it eliminates common barriers which newcomers face when it comes to participating in sport, which are the cost of programming and the challenge of transporting to the location of play. We look forward to our next update on this program which will include photos and an update on the experiences that the youth have in this program!
This month I was able to attend a soccer game that our A4HC newcomer youth soccer team played in. It was so fun to see their energy, excitement, and enjoyment as they competed on the field. It has been and continues to be a great place for newcomer youth to come and participate in a competitive league. I had the opportunity to interview some of the soccer players to see how they were enjoying playing on the soccer team. They expressed an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity to play and identified many benefits that playing on the team brings. Mudeta, a 16 year old from Ethiopia said that he loves to play on the team because he makes new friends, improves his skills and it helps him to understand his potential. It is great to hear this positive feedback and we hope that we will be able to assist many more newcomer youth to experience the benefits of sport in the near future. We have plans to get newcomer girls more involved in the coming months with a drop in sport program specifically for girls. More to come on that next month!
One of the purposes of this pilot project is to build capacity at the newcomer service organization that we are stationed in. Within the next month I’ll have the opportunity to present to many of the employees at A4HC on an introduction to sport in Canada with an emphasis on the value that sport can have on the lives of youth, especially for newcomer youth. We hope that this will help our settlement officers and other staff to see the value of sport, and hopefully encourage the new immigrant families to get their kids involved.
Overall, it’s been a great month and we are excited for what the future holds as we begin to implement a lot of the plans that we have made!
Til next month!