Somehow its already mid-March and the pilot here in Toronto is in the final stretch. Things have been a little crazy with everything that has been happening, but we are still working, and know that we will be able to finish the pilot strong! As of now, while many of us are working from home, we are still planning for future events that will be taking place in the upcoming spring and summer months. In these uncertain times all we can do is to work with what we have and do the best that we can in order to continue building towards future success.
February was a very exciting month for us here as we hosted our second Try a Sport event on Family Day in association with Toronto Inner-City Rugby Foundation (TIRF). This “Try Rugby” day was a great success by all our measures with over 50 boys and girls taking part in the day’s events. Prior to the event taking place, most of the participants had never played or even heard of the sport of rugby. Every youth that took part in the event left having learned the basics of the sport in a structured and fun way. Every youth got the chance to participate in a series of games and drills aimed towards making the game as fun and inclusive as possible to a diverse group. Breaking down barriers to participation and fostering inclusion are two of the top objectives of the Sport for Newcomers Pilot and hosting try a sport days goes along way towards providing play opportunities for youth of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
After speaking to many of the participants and parents during and after the event, I can confidently say that everyone had a great time and that there is an interest to continue playing and trying different sports. We are very grateful to TIRF and all of their volunteer coaches for helping us deliver such a fun and engaging event for newcomers and new Canadians in the Jane/Finch community. We are also very grateful to the Toronto Arrows R.F.C. for sending some professional players out to the event to interact and play with the youth! Having the professional players out definitely added a lot to the event as the youth were all very excited to meet the players and learn from them as they helped lead different drills and activities.
Overall we are very happy with the success of the try days we ran during this pilot and we hope to continue working with both TIRF (Rugby) and the Jane Finch Community Tennis Association to create accessible programming to involve more newcomers going forward.
In continuation of our working partnership, we are also looking to host a training session with TIRF to deliver their “Everyones Game” workshop to some of the older youth in the area. This workshop that has been created and developed by TIRF aims to essentially “train the trainer.” Per TIRF’s website, “Once youth complete this workshop, they will have the tools to deliver the programming on their own. The toolkit is all about creating safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces for young people to access sport.” The goal to create safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces firmly aligns with the goal of our pilot and our aim to continue to involve more newcomer populations into sport.
As of right now the Jane Finch Centre is closed (until at least April 6th), but it is my belief that once the time for self-distancing and isolation is complete that we will be able to once again commence the planning for events, as well as our weekly programming, and work to bring people back together again!
All the best until next time!