Growing Active Kids supports programs for kids in and around social housing
Growing Active Kids will help young people in some less advantaged Winnipeg neigbourhoods participate in all that the city has to offer. The initiative, a collaboration between The Winnipeg Foundation, Manitoba Housing and the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program, supports educational, recreational, and cultural activities for young people at identified sites in Winnipeg. But, to the residents of these areas it means much more.
The program was officially launched April 19 at the Edgeland housing complex in Tuxedo, one of the program’s four pilot sites. Cassandra Golondrina is a long-time Gilbert Park resident, student, and parent. She is also one of the Growing Active Kids Advisory Committee members and spoke at the kick-off before an assembled crowd of residents, Provincial and Federal officials, and representatives from The Winnipeg Foundation.
“Nine years ago if you had asked me what community was, I would have said, ‘where you live.’ That definition greatly changed when I moved my family to Gilbert Park after my landlord sold our house. I now know that community is a place where you belong, where you feel a part of something, and where you don’t have to do it alone.”
“[Gilbert Park] is filled with some of the most amazing individuals, all in their own place on their journey. Like you, we want to provide the best for our children, and like many, there are barriers to this. [These organizations] have recognized the value in creating opportunities for children and youth, and the need for ensuring that income need not be the deciding factor.”
The four participating sites in the Growing Active Kids program are some of the largest housing complexes in the city: Edgeland, Gilbert Park, Mission Gardens, and Valley Gardens. The goal is to ensure kids have the same opportunities as their peers across the city. Research shows that participating in social programs is linked to increased self-esteem, confidence, participation and sense of inclusion in community.
Support from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) will help provide resources for immediate grants to these communities, while contributions from Manitoba Housing, the Foundation and donors, will create an endowment fund – a permanent source of funding to maintain the program over the long-term. Partners and private donors will invest $1.7-million over five years to help sustain the project.
Rick Frost, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation, says the Foundation knows firsthand some of the difficulties facing children and families in social housing. Through its grant-making, the Foundation has seen time and time again the importance and transformative power of supporting children through engaging activity.
“We know that presenting opportunities and supporting talents and interests at an early age – whether through playing on a sports team or taking music lessons – helps them grow into healthier, stronger and more engaged adults,” says Frost. “But, for families in social housing, providing enriched opportunities to grow and learn can be a huge financial challenge.”
Part of the program structure requires each specific community help determine what activities youth participate in. Youth also have a say in the decisions, and Gilbert Park has already identified cultural programming and events outside of the immediate community as priorities, including a pow wow club, swimming lessons, and more.
“A pow wow club will foster cultural understanding and provide many opportunities for all-age gatherings to share and celebrate,” says Golondrina. “Our young people recommended archery and swimming lessons, museums, plays, and festivals, as well as different workshops as some things they would like to be a part of. The Winnipeg Boys and Girls Club and Gilbert Park Going Places program will now be able to take more children on outings that let them explore what Winnipeg has to offer.”
Golondrina is optimistic this new approach can make a difference in her community, and in others like it across the city.
“There has been a huge shift in how change and development is happening all over Manitoba,” she says. “The decision makers have embraced the importance of community involvement at all stages. This builds relationships and empowers community to find its voice and meet its needs, while directing funding to programming that will actually be used by those it is intended for. I am truly excited to be a part of this project and I cannot wait to watch it grow to include even more areas. By creating more opportunities for youth we are investing in our future. And that is an investment that I feel is worth making.”
Growing Active Kids project goals
- Improving the long-term prospects of children, youth, and families in social housing communities
- Engaging community members to work together
- Fostering partnerships to address existing and emerging social issues
- Creating an endowment fund to provide a permanent source of support
During the next five years, partners and private donors will raise $1.7-million toward long-term funding for Growing Active Kids, sustained through a permanent fund with The Winnipeg Foundation.
Formed in 1921, The Winnipeg Foundation is Canada’s first community foundation, providing grants that benefit a variety of local charitable needs, including; health, education, the environment, heritage, arts and culture, and recreation.
For more information on Growing Active Kids or The Winnipeg Foundation, visit wpgfdn.org