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KidSport to look at expanding sports offered

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By Sam Laskaris Sweetgrass Writer EDMONTON







Thanks to a recent focus group meeting, officials with KidSport Alberta have a better understanding on how to improve their Aboriginal Sport Initiative.

A similar focus group staged in 2009 resulted in the ASI being launched in 2010.

This initiative focuses on creating sport opportunities for Aboriginal youth as well as increasing awareness of the KidSport Alberta program in Aboriginal communities.

The most recent focus group was held on Nov. 23 in Edmonton at the University of Alberta. About 15 people took part.

Along with representatives from Aboriginal communities, officials from the city of Edmonton, the University of Alberta and KidSport Alberta attended.

Steve Slawuta, who is KidSport Alberta’s northern regional manager, said there was plenty of discussion about current events being offered as well as suggestions on how to improve the ASI.

“We’re going to take the feedback from there and see where we can be better,” he said.

For example, KidSport Alberta officials are now hoping to expand upon their sport sampler events.

During the past two years, officials from the group have gone to various First Nations communities and allowed youth to try sports such as basketball, lacrosse and volleyball.

Five sport sampler days were held in 2010 with a half dozen days staged in 2011. They were held in Fishing Lake, Bow Valley, Driftpile, Kikino/Heart Lake, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.

During the past two years all of the sports sampler days took place during the summer months.

“We want to put on more sports samplers,” Slawuta said. “Some people want to see them take place in the winter and feature sports like hockey and cross-country skiing.”
KidSport Alberta officials bring in a handful of instructors, who are knowledgeable in their sports, to run the sport sampler days.

“A lot of these (Aboriginal) kids don’t get that kind of quality instruction (from those that live in their communities),” Slawuta said.

At times, many are also not aware of one of KidSport’s missions, which is to raise funds to pay for registration fees and expenses for those interested in taking up a sport.

Those that organize the sport sampler days also try to create a bit of a legacy in the First Nation communities they visit by leaving behind the sports equipment they brought, so it can be enjoyed by the youth in that location for many years to come.

Thanks to the discussions at the November meeting, Slawuta said KidSport Alberta officials now have a list of various organizations to get in touch with to see if they wish to get involved with the ASI.

A list of individuals, who could possibly serve as liaisons for various Aboriginal communities and their sporting ventures, was also compiled.

To further its relationship with various First Nations centres, KidSport Alberta hired an Aboriginal Connections Co-ordinator, Allison Pratley, last year.

Her job includes establishing and maintaining sporting contacts with First Nation communities throughout Alberta.