Navigators Improve Access to Sport
“The goal of sport is to win. The purpose is much deeper than that.” — John Ehrmann Quality sport that begins on local pitches and fields, and in arenas, and gyms, lays a solid foundation of skill, social, and personal development. Positive early sport experiences provide pathways to active-for-life recreational and competitive play all the way up to Olympic and professional competition. Athletes like Ellie Black, Sidney Crosby, and Emma Taylor began their sport experiences in Nova Scotia and are at the peak of their athletic development, consistently among the world’s best. Many others stay involved as athletes, coaches, board members, and officials at the community level, contributing to the full-circle approach of a largely volunteer-driven sport system. With our success as a small province in producing top-level athletes, it would be easy to rest on their results. But it is not always easy for Nova Scotians to get opportunities to experience the benefits of sport. There are several reasons for this, including low capacity, high demands, competing priorities, inconsistent resources, and community diversity. Identifying barriers and possible solutions creates an opportunity to look at things in a different way and then respond. Sport Nova Scotia, in partnership with municipal recreation departments in Yarmouth, Kings, and Antigonish counties, has launched a pilot project consisting of three new community positions focused on increasing equity, diversity, inclusion, and access to sport. Community Sport-EDI Navigators will work with community groups and sport organizations to overcome the challenges that prevent some Nova Scotians from experiencing the benefits of sport. Haley Mood and Grayson Titcomb began their three-year positions in mid-August and are working in the recreation departments of the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth and the Town of Kentville, respectively. Their work has focused on gathering information, building relationships, and mapping assets to identify community priorities, then navigating through the available supports. Early results in Yarmouth include parasport program development in partnership with Easter Seals, community sport fair planning, and Sport Hub resource advancement. In Kings County, the initial work has embraced more equitable facility access, inclusive language supports, and facilitating planning sessions with community partners. The position in Antigonish will begin in December. While the pilot project is in its initial stages, its potential to lead to increased sport participation and retention is high. Long-term goals include developing sustainable supports to get more people playing sport. The Community Sport-EDI Navigators will share and expand on key findings and develop resources and supports across community sport partnerships to keep people playing sport for longer periods and to create stronger communities — the true purpose of sport. Stay tuned.