At the Boys and Girls Club (BCG) of Charlottetown and Montague, there is a program for every child – regardless of their skill level, physical ability, or financial situation.
But the organization needs trained and qualified staff members to make these activities happen.
That’s why during the winter of 2023, the club invested in more instructors who could deliver a variety of activities to youth participating in their physical literacy program– teaching these children valuable skills they need now, and in the future.
These new hires were made possible thanks to the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association’s Reaching Each and Every One: A Community Sport Intervention program. This program, which was funded by Sport Canada’s Community Sport for All Initiative, seeks to remove barriers and increase sport participation rates for equity deserving groups across Canada.
“We really want to ensure that we have high quality staff, who all go through HIGH FIVE training and can be part of program development as well,” says Caroline Burton, revenue development manager with the Boys and Girls Club of Charlottetown and Montague. “This funding meant we could prioritize every single instructor, and it really changed the quality of leadership.”
During the winter after-school care physical literacy program, children ages five to 12 were able to take part in a variety of activities – such as soccer and dance – that suited their age and skill levels.
Burton says many of these children face financial barriers to sport and recreation, and are on the club’s bursary program which allows them to participate at no cost.
“Many of the parents say that BGC really is the only opportunity for their kids to have physical activity, other than of course school,” Burton says. “We realize how important it is, which is why we offer our physical literacy program every single day.”
But while the club helps children overcome financial barriers to sport, Burton says that many children at BGC face their own unique challenges when accessing sport and recreation opportunities – such as disabilities, or skill levels that are different from their peers.
“It was really important to have low instructor to participant ratios, so that we could really serve each child’s unique needs,” she says. “Each kid has their own challenges, barriers and learning levels. It’s very individual, and that all comes back to why a lower staff to child ratio is really beneficial.”
Burton adds that additional instructors over the winter months also meant that older children had more role models to look up to, which in turn, inspired them to help the younger children at the club.
“We serve ages five to 12, so there’s lots of opportunities for the older kids to help the younger kids learn new skills that’s been demonstrated to them by our staff,” Burton explains. “It’s been really nice to see that role model element.”
The added staff members also taught children important life skills that they can use outside of sports and recreation, which they will benefit from in the years to come.
“Kids practiced conflict resolution, emotional regulation, and good sportsmanship,” Burton says. “We saw these skills being built in these programs that are clearly transferable to becoming engaging and active citizens. These are skills that will benefit them for life.”