Antigonish, Nova Scotia kids get the right start with multisport program

September 28, 2015 1 Comment »
Antigonish, Nova Scotia kids get the right start with multisport program

One $300 registration lets a child play 12 sports over 10 months in one location.

Is someone pulling a prank? Nope. This is real.

This autumn, the recreation department of the town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia is launching a new multisport pilot program for kindergarten and Grade 1 children. The purpose is to develop early physical literacy through a wide variety of sports and activities — and make it easy for parents.

The program’s promotional poster says it all: Antigonish wants to help all kids reach their potential through sport.

Antigonish is doing it by introducing every child to the following sports and activities:

  • badminton
  • baseball
  • basketball
  • gymnastics
  • hockey
  • softball
  • soccer
  • swimming
  • taekwondo
  • tennis
  • volleyball
  • and the run-jump-throw-wheel (RJTW) program developed by Athletics Canada

The heart of the Antigonish Multisport Pilot program is physical literacy and fun. By developing skills in a fun environment, kids have a better chance of developing a love for sport and activity — along with the confidence to try anything as they go forward.

The Antigonish program is also a product of strong collaboration. The sessions for the different sports and activities are being delivered by coaches and instructors from local community sport organizations, and the Antigonish recreation department manages the details of registration, insurance, and scheduling.

The program also receives support from St. Francis Xavier University Athletics and Recreation, Sport Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.

As a collaborative project, it’s about working as a team so that kids can get quality programming at relatively low cost. This also mirrors the ultimate vision of the Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) model.

Active for Life recently wanted to know more about the innovative programming happening in Antigonish. We talked with Stephanie Spencer at Sport Nova Scotia, one of many key figures who helped to put it all together.

What was your inspiration in creating this program?

We had great energy from a number of community sport organizations and stakeholders around the CS4L movement after a community sport summit we hosted in May 2014.

Organizations and stakeholders wanted to see how they could work better together. The work that was being done was already really strong, but we saw a huge opportunity to create a greater collective impact through collaboration and alignment with the CS4L model. With municipal recreation on board and excited, the joint process around CS4L only became easier.

We ended up with the perfect combination of energy, support and opportunity to do something outside of the box of typical sport delivery.

What need were you addressing?

The more time we can focus on physical literacy, through skill development, passion, and fun, the more opportunity to have healthy and happy children who are active for life. It’s the difference between growing sport through children and growing children thought sport. We want children in our community to reach their potential through sport, and increased alignment to CS4L, especially at the Active Start stage, is going to strengthen that process.

What do you hope for this program?

We hope it takes off. We are using the pilot to provide a quality multisport experience, to strengthen the mandates of community sport organizations in alignment with CS4L and to educate on the importance of physical literacy to build healthier communities. The pilot will help assess the interest of the community as well as the logistics and coordination of having community sport organizations and stakeholders working together to provide a unique multisport experience.

The success of the pilot, together with feedback from the participants, parents, municipal recreation departments, and community sport organizations, will help to determine the direction of multisport delivery in the future. After evaluation and assessment of our pilot, we should have a basic model of how this can work and grow successfully in Antigonish. Then we can look at branching out to neighboring communities to adapt the program to fit their needs.

What was the secret to getting your program off the ground?

Our Multisport Pilot is really the making of a three year process of relationship building and knowledge mobilization around the CS4L movement – this effort has laid the ground work for making it possible, as we had the energy behind us to look at sport a different way. Our pilot model could not have worked without the guidance, support and momentum of the community sport organizations, stakeholders, and municipal recreation departments involved. There were a lot of logistics to figure out. Our strong working committee allowed us to take a look at what would work and what wouldn’t work for each organization, and then we simply found the balance in between.

Learn more

Does the Antigonish Multisport Pilot sound like the kind of program you would like to see in your community? Learn more about putting together a similar program by emailing Stephanie Spencer, Highland Region Community Sport Development Coordinator, Sport Nova Scotia.

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One Comment

  1. brian hayden September 29, 2015 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    This sounds amazing. I would love to see something similar for preteens. We are specializing too much with longer and longer seasons. My son cannot play multisports easily anymore because the drive to win has made coaches and sports clubs extend their seasons causing too much overlap. IMO
    Best of luck

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