Improving physical and mental health in Delta by making sports accessible to all.
by Natalie Bruckner
“It doesn’t matter what your background is or where you came from. If you have dreams and goals, that’s all that matters.”
This quote by professional tennis player Serena Williams remarkably mirrors the philosophy of many Delta-based fitness advocates promoting accessible fitness for kids of all backgrounds. With Canadians spending on average $1,000 per child on sports every year (the most per capita in the
world, according to WinterGreen Research), it can be quite a stretch for the average family, especially here in B.C. However, the benefits of sports extend far beyond the physical and have been shown to improve a child’s mental health, well-being and social skills, as Carlene Lewall, the former face of Delta Gymnastics Society and current chair of KidSport Delta, well knows.
“Much of hyperactivity, inability to focus, mental and social health issues, can be diverted just by showing kids how to move their bodies,” says Lewall, who is an advocate for something called physical literacy – the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.
“With so much technology available to children, parents having to work, and families often living in apartments, children don’t always have the opportunity to play freely and learn their basic movement patterns,” she says.
This is where Delta Gymnastics Society and KidSports Delta come in. Lewall worked with Delta Gymnastics for 38 years before retiring in June 2017. She saw the Society grow from 30 children enrolled in the various programs to around 4,000 today. The Society’s motto “Where kids come first” is demonstrated through its numerous programs, from the Active Start: 6 months to 6 Yrs program that develops agility, balance, co-ordination and speed, to its adaptive needs program.
“While gymnastics is a sport, in its purest form it is about movement of the body. It teaches kids how to move with confidence and competence, and gives them social skills they will need in life,” says Lewall. Gymnastics is also considered the ideal springboard to other sports as it teaches fundamental movement skills such as climbing, swinging and balancing.
However, getting into sports programs isn’t always that straightforward, and cost can indeed be a little prohibitive. The answer for parents in Delta who are in need of financial assistance is KidsSport Delta – a non-profit organization whose goal is to ensure that kids in financial need have access to the positive experience of sport and physical activity.
The Delta Chapter was formed in 2010 after a boost in sport from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and began giving out grants for sport registration fees in 2012. “In 2017 we were able to give 129 kids in Delta $350 each; in 2018 that increased to $500 for 210 kids due to fundraising efforts,” says Lewall.
KidsSport Delta and its eight volunteers promote sport and physical activity as being a life-long opportunity for self-expression, goal setting, dedication, positive thinking and increased self- confidence for kids . . . tools essential in every kid’s life lunchbox.
“We really do have some great facilities in Delta. Ultimately fitness is about building kids to have success and be the best they can be,” says Lewall.
For information on Delta Gymnastics visit https://deltagymnastics.com
For information on KidSport Delta visit http://www.kidsportcanada.ca/british-columbia/delta/
Free sports activities and programs for kids this summer in Delta:
Delta Families First new youth admission pass program
When: Delta youth can obtain their pass starting July 1, 2019
Available to: Delta youth between the ages of 10 and 18
New Baby Daze program in North and South Delta – (topics include exercise)
When: Starting July 3, 2019
Available to: New parents and their babies (between newborn and 6 months)
GoodLife Teen Fitness program – free access
When: July 2 to September 2, seven days a week from 8am to 4pm (last check in is at 3pm).
Available to: Youth aged 12 to 17 ( GoodLife Fitness Club Surrey)
GoodLife Teen Fitness program – free access
Gracie Barra – Delta Kids & Teens Delta Martial Arts free introductory lesson
Available to: Kids and teens, ages three to 15.
The YMCA/Steve Nash Youth Basketball League (volunteer-driven)
When: 12 weeks of fun drills. Call for details.
Available to: Kids in grades 2-10
For more on activities for Kids in Delta visit DeltaKids: https://www.deltakids.ca