Written by: Sarah Smith, SportWORKS Officer, Sport for Newcomers Edmonton
The last time you heard from Edmonton was in 2020 from our SportWORKS Officer Kirstina Turner. While much has changed since those days (including an increased vocabulary of pandemic related words), Action for Healthy Communities (AHC) is back providing sport opportunities to newcomers in the city. The pandemic may have shifted focus for many organizations but our commitment to increasing newcomer sport opportunities in Edmonton has not. We took our experience with the first pilot of Commonwealth Sport Canada’s Sport for Newcomers Initiative and grew it into further opportunities such as: conducting research, continuing try-it events, hosting regular sport programming, and developing policy recommendations for sport organizations. Now, we are back where it all began with an opportunity to implement what we have learned.
One of the most valuable lessons for AHC was the development of sport partnerships. Through these relationships we have been able to create opportunities for our newcomer youth to try various sport activities. For the month of April we focused on dance. The Empowering BIPOC Girls group that is run at AHC requested an opportunity to learn more about ballet. Our current partner Ballet Edmonton was the perfect fit and they facilitated two sessions with the girls during two school lunch hours. When I asked the youth if they had ever participated in dance before most girls said, “no” but, that they had always wanted to try. In each of these sessions the girls were able to meet and learn ballet from a professional dancer.
While our newcomer girls started their session fairly hesitant and nervous, they started to open up as the music turned on and the instructor started taking them through stretches. From there, they learned the basic steps of ballet, how to “spot” while you are spinning, and started putting some steps together. Afterwards, the girls stated that they really enjoyed the activities and asked when they could join more classes. Due to this response we are looking into how we can combine their class with our after school dance class to do a summer intensive dance workshop!
Finally, Ballet Edmonton offered free tickets to their upcoming ballet performance. Not only will the participants go, but they can also bring 2 friends or family members as well. We are so thankful for the opportunity provided by our partners and their dedication to our newcomer youth. With this partnership we hope to continue finding new streams and ways for newcomers to continue pursuing their sport interests.
While dance may be the first activity we were able to implement, we have many fun and exciting events coming up this summer! I cannot wait to share what we have planned and check-in with you all on these experiences.