Hawkesbury gets $67,000 to get moving

Nicole Trudeau wants to make the “No Loitering” sign that hangs on the side of Hawkesbury’s Robert Hartley Sports Complex obsolete.

Trudeau, who is the town’s manager of recreational, community and cultural activities, is looking to move the “Let’s Get Moving Program” after it was awarded $67,000 by the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund. That money will go towards building a sports equipment rental library, an instructor-in-training program aimed at teenagers, and daily programs to help get the people of Hawkesbury moving.

“From what we can tell here, the population is aware that we need to eat better, that we need to move more but it’s the ability to give them those opportunities that have become the barrier,” says Trudeau.

That was the idea behind renovating the complex’s second ice rink, through a previous grant, to become what’s now known as the “multi-functional room.”  It houses a walking track, a full-size tennis court, two badminton/volleyball courts and two pétanque fields—added by special request.

Since the multi-functional room’s unveiling last February, Trudeau says she’s seen countless new faces.

“We finally had something to offer other people, not just the swimmers and hockey players,” she says.

This is also, she says, what inspired her to expand programming to help break down those barriers even further.

Teaching and Training

Part of the new programming is getting different groups of people to learn new sports.

“We have quite a few immigrants here who come to the pool and push their children to take swimming lessons to make sure they can swim,” says Trudeau. “But when it comes to badminton or skating, they don’t really have the experience so it’s not always easy for a parent to teach their children if they themselves don’t have that ability.”

With more people experiencing different sports, Trudeau wants to see more people involved in the teaching side of things. “Let’s Get Moving” will also offer an “instructor-in-training” program geared towards teens. Trudeau says there are many young people, but not many jobs for them.

“We want to recruit them as volunteers, since they have to do their hours for school anyway, so they can be coaches’ assistants or activity leaders and they’ll be learning how to mentor people in a new sport,” she says.

Afterwards, the idea is for those teens to then become instructors who will then pass on their knowledge to other young volunteers.

Young kids and adults are usually the best served in a community when it comes to physical activity, according to Trudeau. Usually it’s teenagers who are the left behind. One solution is to integrate more technology into physical activity, like geocaching.

“It’s not up to us to tell teenagers to go get active, we want to know what they want and work to offer it,” she says.

Financial constraints

Trudeau acknowledges physical activity falls isn’t often a priority in poorer towns, but says sports don’t always have to be expensive.

“We need to look at unstructured play, to let people just go outside,” she says.

Set to launch in mid-January, that’s where the sports equipment library comes in.

The grant money and a partnership with 100% Actifs will allow the recreation department to buy new equipment available to be rented out. This includes anything from snowshoes to tennis rackets and volleyballs to stand-up paddleboards for the summer.

One of Trudeau’s spin-off ideas from the library is a sports equipment bazaar hosted a couple times a year where families can sell, buy or trade unused equipment.

Trudeau hopes this will lead to more parents getting involved in children’s activities at the new facilities.

“Parents have a lot going on. They tend to say, ‘Go to your swimming lesson, I’ll go do groceries and then come back,’” she says. So the new program will bring an internal currency to the complex. Those who volunteer regularly will be able to cash in for discounts on things like swimming lessons or a membership for the multi-functional room.

“We want to encourage other parents who may be shy, but we want them to be here to help out and be part of the community,” she says.

“Let’s Get Moving” highlights the fact physical activity doesn’t have to interrupt someone’s life.

“It’s the idea that people can take 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there,” says Trudeau. “I think people understand the concept, they just need the place and the coaching to get it off the ground and then hopefully it’ll continue.”

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