By reducing the barriers to participation, Sport Venture’s community leagues provide recreational opportunities to children who may otherwise miss out on the many benefits realized by taking part in sports and recreation.
Participation in sport and recreation programs has proven time and again to have a positive impact on children and youth’s social and emotional development. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of organized sports, many young people miss out on these opportunities. Instead, they may search for acceptance and belonging in gangs or by taking part in antisocial leisure pursuits during their free time. It is our hope that by removing barriers such as equipment costs, transportation and registration fees, we will help mitigate some of the negative effects of living in poverty and allow underprivileged young people to experience the enduring benefits that physical activity and team sports can provide.
Using the idea of inclusion and access, Sport Venture is constantly identifying needs in various communities and trying to fill in gaps where they can. It is this belief that led Sport Venture to La Loche, Saskatchewan to facilitate a three-day Sport and Leadership Camp in partnership with the Dene High School and the RCMP Community Program Officer, La Loche Detachment.
We believe that young leaders are the future of a community. We wanted to help build this capacity within La Loche’s youth by offering tools that would create the confidence to step into leadership roles.
The camp was ran over three days. Each morning the young people took part in HIGH FIVE® training which focuses on leadership principles. This training not only provided building blocks of leadership fundamentals, it also allowed for the youth to gain HIGH FIVE® certification. The afternoons were spent building on these principles and the tools we gave them. They learned things like the role a coach plays, how to run a practice and what goes into creating a practice plan. The youth then broke into groups and created a practice plan, taking turns stepping into a coach role and running a pseudo practice for their classmates. This was a great hands on way to work with the youth to help build on the leadership and coaching skills they had learned.
We wanted to work with a community to help give the young leaders the capacity to make lasting change in their communities, not simply come in for a few days and leave. La Loche, under the Program Officers leadership, used our training as a stepping stone to increase graduation rates among their youth by creating a program that would allow them to receive a high school credit for volunteer hours. After attending our training, each participant had the opportunity to identify a leadership role they wanted to take in the community. They were set up with a mentor, and after the completion of 100 hours, they would receive their credit.
Our aim is to bring training to these communities to increase leadership capacity in the community’s youth, which we believe will empower them to organize and control their own recreation opportunities.
Program Manager, Ehrlo Sport Venture Programs
This article previously appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of DIRECTION magazine.