Olivia Scholes knows first-hand the impact of recreation opportunities on youth.
The Recreation Oak Bay swim instructor taught a pair of young newcomers to Canada, who found their way into the pool through Canadian Tire Jumpstart fund.
Over the months she instructed them, the 8- and 12-year-old grew in leaps and bounds, Scholes said.
“They were timid at the start. Their personality came through and they were more jovial, confident in capability and able to enjoy the water,” she said. “Swimming is a life skill in my opinion, especially on the Island.”
Not only were the children new to our country, they had never seen such a pool of water.
“It was a slow, steady process,” Scholes said. “They both advanced, which is what we wanted.”
The siblings went from the awe of seeing a swimming pool for the first time to happily climbing in, splashing about and hopping back out.
“They went from not knowing anything to being safe in the water,” Scholes said. “It definitely brought out an athletic side and an adventurous side in the younger one.”
He became eager to experiment and experience new things, while his older sister grew into herself.
“Her progress in swimming gave her something to be proud about.”
Both, to her knowledge, advanced to group aquatic camps.
An added benefit was dramatic improvements in their conversational English, from the basics to full, correct sentences over the course of several months.
The two are a good example of what Jumpstart is about – getting kids active and offering an even playing field financially.
“We have definitely heard stories across the country about the impact that Jumpstart funding has had on kids and families. Parents and families continuously tell us they appreciate the opportunity,” said Althea Evans, the Regional Manager B.C. Jumpstart.
“The intention is to get kids off the couch and get physically active, and increase accesses for kids that can’t provide the funding themselves. There’s a lot of trickle down benefits of being active.”
The Canadian Tire Jumpstart Foundation and the area stores support local children, ensuring they have access to sport and recreation.
The community-based charitable program helps kids in need participate in organized sports and recreational activities like soccer, swimming and dance. They fund essentially any recreation program that exists, promoting life-long health benefits, confidence and social skills that come from being active at an early age.
“A lot of what we do right now is working with schools on physical literacy,” Evans said. “One of the concerns is that because kids aren’t just allowed to go into the streets and roam free, they’re more screen-oriented and they don’t have the natural movements that allow them to engage in sports.”
There are also stories of youth, left to their own devices to fill time after school hours, getting into trouble.
“It’s a critical point in time and having kids enter into programs that keep them out of trouble has been a huge benefit of this funding,” Evans said.
With funding, kids can find a safe and structured place to focus their attention and energy.
She recently heard of a youngster who entered soccer shy and not social. Like the young Oak Bay swimmers, the activity promoted character growth.
“She got involved, got the hang of it and blossomed from there. She was the first one running onto the field … built relationships and friendships and really came out of her shell,” Evans said.
Learn more at jumpstart.canadiantire.ca online.