A key part of Commonwealth Games Canada’s (CGC) mission is to “enhance the lives of youth across the Commonwealth.”
The organization is proud to have been one of the world’s pioneers of international sport for development for over a quarter-century, leading over 125 local sport projects impacting more than two million youth in over 30 nations and territories.
Today, in addition to its international programming, a new focus of CGC’s development through sport shifts home to Canada, with its “Sport for Newcomers” project – designed to reduce or eliminate selected barriers to newcomer youth sport participation and enhance the capacity of Newcomer Service Organizations in Canada. Starting with two pilot projects in Toronto and Edmonton, CGC expects that the initiative will lead to increased sport frequency rates and retention of young newcomers to Canada.
“Our SportWORKS projects have impacted the lives of millions and transformed communities around the world,” said Richard Powers, president of CGC. “We are thrilled that the model we have used successfully for a quarter-century is now being brought to Canada and are proud to be launching two pilot projects in Edmonton and Toronto. We believe in the power of sport and its ability to transform lives, and know that newcomers to Canada will benefit from the social and health impacts of participating in sport.”
In Toronto, CGC is partnering with the Jane Finch Community & Family Centre, a multi-service, community-based organization with a strong focus on poverty reduction through resident engagement, capacity building and anti-oppression. “For over 40 years, our organization has been focused on health and well-being,” said Obosa Obaizamomwan, Settlement Worker, Jane Finch Spot Youth Centre, “and we know of sport’s incredible ability to contribute to both of these elements. We believe that working with CGC on the Newcomers initiative will enhance our current programs for newcomer youth in our community and look forward to seeing the impacts first-hand.”
In Edmonton, CGC has partnered with Action for Healthy Communities (AHC), a registered charity serving the needs of children, youth, families and seniors with a unique community development model for the last 25 years. Its objective is to build the capacity of individuals and groups to improve their lives and communities through a community building process, including needs assessment, support, mentoring and skills development. The organization works with all population groups including newcomers from the Greater Edmonton area and multiple small towns in northern Albertain order to assess their needs and provide required assistance with a focus on building inclusive communities. “We are proud to partner with Commonwealth Games Canada in the Sport for Newcomers initiative”, said Aftab Khan, executive director of Action for Healthy Communities. “SportWORKS has a great track record of using sport to effect change and we believe that in partnering with CGC in this project, we will be able to impact our community in a positive way by offering newcomer youth opportunities through sport.”
The two pilot projects will be led by SportWORKS officers who will volunteer full-time with each recipient organization for eight months to increase opportunities and accessibility to sport programs for newcomer youth, especially girls. SportWORKS officers will assist through the development, execution and cataloguing of newcomer youth focused sport program planning and delivery adaptions that recognize the unique cultural needs of newcomer youth while reducing/eliminating barriers by providing skill-appropriate sport participation and learning opportunities which align with the principles of quality sport. Furthermore, a formalized referral process for newcomer youth to access existing local sport opportunities and capacity building via the development of a variety of new “train the trainer” programs and communication resources for use by NSO staff will be delivered.
In Edmonton, Sherry Heschuk, a community leader, teacher and experienced coach and official in the sport of athletics will be working with the Action for Healthy Communities organization. In Toronto, Dante Losardo, a Sport Management graduate and former SportWORKS Officer (Botswana) will join the Jane Finch Community & Family Centre as their project lead.
The Sport for Newcomers Initiative is part of CGC’s SportWORKS Program, which sends Canadian sport leaders to host organizations in Canada and throughout the Commonwealth to deliver sustainable sport programs and build sport system capacity. SportWORKS prides itself on “Making a Difference and Becoming Different.” The Sport for Newcomers Initiative aims to not only assist the host organizations and newcomers, but also to make a difference in the lives and careers of SportWORKS Officers.