I can’t believe that this is my last blog post as a SportWORKS Officer! The past 7 months have flown by. It has been such a privilege to be a part of CSC’s Sport for Newcomers Initiative here in Edmonton with Action for Healthy Communities. I’ve grown personally and professionally through the opportunities I’ve had throughout the project. On top of that, I’ve been lucky enough to learn from and connect with amazing people at Action for Healthy Communities (A4HC) and newcomer youth in Edmonton.
When I first started in November, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was excited to be involved in creating opportunities for newcomer youth to more easily access sport opportunities, but beyond that I wasn’t sure how it would look. It’s safe to say that this experience exceeded my expectations in every way. As I’ve found with most opportunities in life, it’s the people that make the biggest impact on your experience. At A4HC, I had a great team of leaders to work with and learn from. I felt supported through the entire experience and had access to all of the resources I needed in order for the project to be successful. The team at A4HC is committed to the long term sustainability of the project—helping newcomer youth to more easily access sport, long after the pilot project is completed. It’s great to know that the effects of the Sport for Newcomers Initiative will leave a positive impact in Edmonton!
One of the biggest highlights of the project for me was interacting with the youth. It was so fun to be able to participate in sport with them and see them try new activities for the first time. They were happy to be there and grateful for the opportunity they had to play sports. Seeing them learn a new skill, help each other, smile and have fun while playing sport brought me joy. As I spoke with and interviewed youth who were involved with the project, it was amazing to hear about how participating in sport helped them adjust to being in Canada. They talked about how it helped them to develop their social skills and make new friends. Plus it was a way to get active. It was a little glimpse of what can happen on a much bigger scale as organizations in Edmonton continue to work together to make sport more accessible for all!
On an administrative level, it was exciting to meet with many different local sport organizations and see them acknowledge the challenges that underserved groups face in the Edmonton sport system. Many of these organizations understand the barriers that newcomers face when getting involved in sport, and they want to work together to do something about it. Starting that conversation was a great success and one that we hope continues.
Overall, I think that the Sport for Newcomers Initiative in Edmonton had a positive influence on everyone who was involved. One of the biggest things I learned is that it really does take a community effort in order to create lasting change. People and organizations need to work together to make a difference. It was great to see progress made in this area through the resources and partnerships created through the project. Being a SportWorks Officer reinforced in me all of the good that can come through sport participation. Working with youth is such a fulfilling endeavour because you really have the opportunity to make a difference at such a critical time in someone’s life. Finally, I just want to give a big thank you to Action for Healthy Communities, Commonwealth Sport Canada, and all those who were involved in the Sport for Newcomers Initiative! I’m excited to see what is to come for Commonwealth Sport Canada and the Sport for Newcomers Initiative!