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Building community capacity

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 One youth leader at a time

Without question, life became a little more challenging after March 2020. But that didn’t stop more than 200 youth leaders across Nunavut from making a difference through recreation and sport in their communities.

In the last seven years, more than 750 youth leaders have participated in Recreation & Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN) initiatives, combining training, certification, leadership and employment (seasonal and casual) to deliver quality programs to children and youth in their communities. 

“We have youth delivering programs for children and their peers, and they are nailing it! We owe it to our youth to provide leadership initiatives, to support skill development, to assist in building confidence and self esteem. These young leaders are our future!” says Dawn Currie, RPAN Executive Director. 

RPAN supports year‐round initiatives, including their signature Get Happy Summer Day Camp program, LTW (Leading The Way) – After School Program, Multi Sport Camp Program and a new Teen Intramural Program, all delivered by youth leaders 15 to 27 years of age. At a time when the pandemic has changed so much, the value of recreation and sport has never been more important. 

The Get Happy Summer Day Camp program runs annually from the end of June to mid August and is hosted in more than 15 communities each summer. A training week for youth leaders is hosted in June (normally in person, but we learned we can do it via Zoom during a pandemic). Training includes first aid certification, team building, communications, planning daily and special event programs, hands‐on crafts and games sessions and fun! 

The LTW – After School Program utilizes young leaders to organize after school programs for children. These programs focus on physical activities and are run two to four times a week. The Multi Sport program includes young adults who are currently coaching or who have aged out of multi sport “Games” programs and university/college interns. Working in teams, these young leaders, after training, travel to communities for a week and deliver week‐long multi sport programs. This is just one avenue for recruiting young coaches in Nunavut. The Teen Intramural program is the first phase of an extended program to build community‐based youth recreation associations where youth are part of the planning and delivery system in their communities for recreational sport programs. 

Commitment and excellence does not go unnoticed. In March 2020, just before the pandemic closed the world down, RPAN supported two youth leaders to attend the 2020 Via Youth Summit in Vancouver. Nathan Mannilaq (Taloyoak) and Quentin Sala (Sanikiluaq) were nominated and selected to represent Nunavut youth. RPAN also nominated Quentin for a national CPRA (Canadian Parks and Recreation Association) Emerging Leader of the Year Award and were thrilled to hear he had been selected. The CPRA Emerging Leader Award recognizes the importance of supporting and celebrating young Canadians, as they are the future leaders of the parks and recreation sector. This Award provides national recognition to an emerging leader in the field of parks and recreation who has made a valued contribution to the sector. The nominee will have contributed to a municipal, regional, provincial/territorial or national success in the spirit of contributing to the public good. Nathan was selected as the Baffinland Iron Mines Recreation Leader of the year! RPAN has young leaders going to college/ university or trades school being nominated for the Ted Roger’s Scholarship, which recognizes the inherent value of community service and a solid work ethic. This is made possible through RPAN’s ongoing partnership with the Jays Care Foundation. 

RPAN is not alone in its belief in the value of supporting youth programs and youth leadership development. Annually, RPAN has more than 12 funding and training partners. “It is fantastic to partner with organizations that share in our vision and belief in the importance of building community capacity, one youth at a time,” says Dawn Currie. 

RPAN looks forward to another year of working with communities and youth. They are already planning, already recruiting partners, already excited for 2021‐2022, regardless of how it will look. 

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