New Calgary program aims to give more kids access to multi-sport fun

New Calgary program aims to give more kids access to multi-sport fun

A new program set to get kids active both in and out of school will be launching this fall in Calgary.

The Community Sport Hub is a free program that will take place in the northeast Calgary community of Martindale, and is focused around the Crossing Park School, a public school located in the community.

“The idea is to provide more multi-sport opportunities to children and youth between the ages of four and 18,” says Stuart Rose, sport development advisor with the City of Calgary.

“We’re wanting to reduce barriers and get them more physically active through positive sport experiences.”

The idea for the pilot program developed when Rose and his colleagues realized that not every child in Calgary has access to sport outside of school. Sometimes the barrier is cultural; parents or caregivers simply don’t understand the importance of physical activity. Sometimes the barrier is financial; parents don’t have the money to register children in organized sport. And occasionally it’s accessibility; people are often unable or unwilling to drive or take transportation to sport facilities.

Organized sport in Canada is expensive; the average Canadian family spends $953 per child each year. In Alberta, that amount is $1,428 per child.

And, according to ParticipACTION, “only nine percent of Canadian children ages five to 17 get the 60 minutes of heart-pumping exercise they need each day.”

Rose and his team — a group that includes the City of Calgary, the Calgary Board of Education, and various sports organizations from across the city — have pulled together to help facilitate the program and to provide coaches. Basketball, tennis, field hockey, volleyball, and cricket are just a few of the sports that will be offered.

They’ll also be working with Athletics Canada’s Run Jump Throw Wheel program, which seeks to help kids develop fundamental movement skills.

“We’re trying to leverage the programs that are already out there,” Rose says. “We’re not reinventing the wheel.”

The program is split into three areas. First, roughly 1,100 children from kindergarten to Grade 9 will take part in the pilot as part of their regular course curriculum during school hours.

Then, Crossing Park School students will have the opportunity to sign up at school for free after-school activities one day a week.

Finally, Community Sport Hub’s outreach will bring the activities to a variety of locations throughout the Martindale neighbourhood.

While some children may seek to continue in a particular sport, that ultimately isn’t the goal, Rose says. “That would be a nice by-product, but it’s not the focus,” he says. “The focus is on physical literacy and being active for life.”

Community Sport Hub’s pilot program will run from September 2017 to end of June 2018.

In July 2018, Rose and his team will find out if the program will continue.

He is hopeful, however, and says that down the road, he hopes the program will become a permanent, evolving part of the actual community.

“We’re going to try to find volunteers within the community who can help support the program,” he says. “The idea is to make it sustainable long term.”

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