Our 2015 Northwestern Alberta Vital Signs report identified some key issues facing the communities in our region. The report highlighted a shared the lack of a sense of belonging and higher than average youth obesity rates.
When asked how connected people feel to their community, 28% of our youth and young adults (ages 15-24) and 20% of adults responded “hardly” or “not at all.”
In our health region, the North Zone, 32.3% of youth (12-17 years) self-reported they were overweight or obese. The provincial rate was 27.7%, and the national rate was 23.1%.
So what does data like this mean? What is the link between a sense of belonging, health, and well-being, and participation in sports? We decided to explore this question further with our Vital Pulse: Link between Sports and Belonging Report.
Research shows that sports and recreation activities play a significant role in strengthening communities and fostering a sense of belonging. Canadians also place a significant value on the role of sports in the lives of youth with 85% of Canadians agreeing that sports participation builds stronger communities and 89% saying that it is important that youth have the opportunity to experience organized activities.
It is clear, however, that barriers to participating in sports still exist for many youths including cost, accessibility, lack of information about the programs available, the perception that organized sports are not safe or welcoming, and the lack of confidence in their ability.
Experience Fun Experience Fitness was created with the intention to connect youth with the state of the art facilities that we have available in our region, to promote healthy activity, and to encourage belonging. The program allows kids, ages 9-13, to visit the Eastlink Centre to experience a variety of organized activities that they normally would not have had the chance to experince.
This spring 80 kids discovered new activities, socialized with peers, and gained confidence through the program, which was hosted at the Eastlink Centre over 5 days through Easter Break. The feedback from the participants and parents has been phenomenal with many families requesting to come back again next year.
Your Community Foundation has intimate knowledge of local priorities which we use to suport local organizations and initatives. Our annual Nourish the North Wine & Auction event allows us to develop much-needed programs like Experience Fun Experience Fitness to engage and support our communities. Guests at this year’s event will again have the chance to pledge donations of $50 to our Philanthropy Wall, proceeds of which go to facilitating the Experience Fun Experience Fitness program on a larger scale.
Want to support this important program? Buy tickets to Nourish the North Wine & Auction for your chance to participate in the Philanthropy Wall. Can’t make the event? You can still donate to the cause.
About Experience Fun Experience Fitness:
“My son enjoyed himself immensely at the Spring Camp; he loved doing different kinds of sports. He loved the facility and the organizers/helpers, and he found that everyone was friendly, helpful and he got so much insight into different kinds of sports and healthy living. Thank you so much, for putting a program like this together, where kids can find what sport they are interested in, without parents spending loads of money on gear just to find that their kids aren’t interested in a certain sport after one or two goes at it. Keep up the good work.”
“My kids thoroughly enjoyed the variety of activities. They would have never tried wheelchair basketball and didn’t even know it existed. My daughter now loves squash and they both got to try the FlowRider with no pressure and gained confidence. Thank you for providing this opportunity.”
“I just wanted to let you know that my daughter is still talking about the activities that she participated in and the new friends she made in the Easter camp. She loved the games such as dodge ball and wheel chair basketball and of course, the FlowRider. The camp gave her opportunities to try new things she otherwise would not have tried. It was a great experience for her and I hope you’re able to host it again next year. When our children become interested in physical fitness and can lead a healthy, active lifestyle, everyone in our community wins.”