Anishnabeg Outreach sports program ‘changes the narrative for Indigenous youth’

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When Chae McCallum saw the big smile on her seven-year-old son’s face as he donned a Blue Jays t-shirt and a foam bat, she knew she had made the right choice in enrolling her son. in the Anishnabeg Outreach Youth Multi-Sport Program.

McCallum’s son, who suffers from ADHD, has thrived in Anishnabeg Outreach’s multi-sport youth program, meeting new kids, caring and learning the value of teamwork.

“It’s been so good for him,” McCallum says. “I know my son, he doesn’t like to lose anything, but this program has really given him the basics of sportsmanship and teamwork.”

Laine Padovan, program coordinator, says that’s the goal. “The same kids are hanging out and making friendships, and I’m seeing a lot of positivity and teamwork.”

The program is run by Anishnabeg Outreach, an Indigenous grassroots organization in Kitchener that offers reconciliation training, early childhood programs, healing rituals, and sports programs for adults and youth.

The multi-sport youth program is for Aboriginal youth ages 6-12 and runs on Mondays and Saturdays. The organization also offers floor hockey on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will be launching an ice hockey program this winter. As part of the program, children receive free materials.

Manager of Indigenous Wellness and Healing Services, Jessica Kewageshig, says sport plays a crucial role in Indigenous healing.

“We want our sports program to change the narrative for Indigenous youth,” says Kewageshig. “Sport is a vector of positive development for young people. Some Aboriginal youth are unable to participate due to circumstances beyond their control. So we want to create an environment where sport participation works.

McCallum notes that sport brings people together, saying, “Sport brings community together, and that’s healing.”

For this reason, sport has always been part of Anishnabeg Outreach’s long-term vision, says Kewageshig.

“Sports participation has a ripple effect resulting in several undeniable positive outcomes,” says Kewageshig. “Our vision started with sport as part of the long-term outcome, and we are very happy to have been able to launch this program and provide it to the Aboriginal community. »

For more information on the Anishnabeg Outreach Multi-Youth Sports Program, visit https://aocan.org

The story behind the story: After connecting with Indigenous organizations in the Waterloo region, journalist Genelle Levy aimed to write about initiatives that have uplifted Indigenous youth.

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