THE " A SPARK " PROGRAM
" AFTER SCHOOL PICKLEBALL FOR AT RISK CHILDREN "
PICKLEBALL GOES TO THE SCHOOL BOARD, THE YMCA, SPORTS BC AND THE CANADIAN TIRE CORPORATION
Having been recommended by White Rock Parks and Rec, for teaching Pickleball in the Surrey School System – to at risk children in grades K-6, we embarked on a recruitment program . Players who had an interest in helping to teach children our go – to – sport were screened and signed on . If taught at a young age ,Pickleball could turn into a lifetime sport for these children – who, for many reasons had dropped out of all sports. Hence the name " A Spark " program to re-energize them into sport . It was suggested we start with 50 students – we had over 100.
How did we do ? Some 22 of our seniors and youth players volunteered, with 14 coming to help in three schools, widely separated geographically . Green Timbers was Central Surrey, Adams Rd on the Surrey / Langley Cloverdale border , and Cedar Hills was located on the Surrey , North Delta border. This necessitated two crews for half of the times. Those YMCA volunteers who knew the children, in the main , had never heard of Pickleball , so were observers and helpers, which earned them all an instructors certificate at the end. We hope they will carry on with teaching the sport , downloading the level 1 course from our www.bcpickleball.com website for free. Many YMCA's in North America offer Pickleball as a main sport. 8000+ schools teach Pickleball – the fastest growing sport in North America.
All children from kindergarten to 6 learned the skills needed to play, attempted and played a tournament on the fourth day, and one group had a play session with their parents who enjoyed the interaction immensely and programmed some play time with their children in adjacent parks for the summer . Clayton park, Maple Green park , and Sungod Arena were promoted to them as adjacent facilities and some are free play areas. We thank all parents, YMCA volunteers and South Surrey volunteers for this month of volunteer effort. We thank the Province for the funding.
All instructors had a background check.
A Sports BC article is to follow. We will attempt to send a copy of this report to the principals of the involved schools for distribution in their newsletters . Several students and staff indicated an interest in participating as they had never heard of Pickleball before our arrival. We will ask parks and recreation surrey to provide more courts in Cloverdale, North Surrey and the North Delta border area so that these students can play in their off times eg: Summer holidays. We will also ask Guildford Rec., Cloverdale Rec., Sungod Rec. and South Surrey Rec. to provide times for children to play this sport with their own age groups as this has not yet been done in any lower mainland facility.
Commentary : Although each venue taught was different in demographic and ages, all were able to learn in spite of some at risk behaviour and learning difficulties . Of course expectations for the little ones is lower , but a beginning is always worthwhile.
The older ones looked forward to the competition and were paired with a younger and other gender partner wherever possible. The older ones then helped teach the younger ones. Parental involvement was helpful and promises some follow up. Our elementary school program takes a full school of 500 and teaches them within one week ending with a tournament. Teachers, principal, and parents all get involved and it is a very popular course.
We try to get the best return by suggesting grades 4-5-6-7 participate – so 250 students approx. These ages allow for faster learning and better hand / eye co-ordination. The absence of teachers, principal, or actual school involvement did not hamper the enthusiasm of the students but did not produce the school spirit for the sport shown by previously taught schools like Green Timbers.
Paddles supplied at some schools were too large and too heavy. Diller, Swinger or the Canadian Woody from Manta Sports can be used ( they will put the school photo on it ) with a jugs ( MVP Sports Burnaby) ball – green or white.
Thanks to the school board, BC Sports , and the YMCA – Canadian Tire Corp. jumpstart program for all their support and co-ordination.
YOURS IN SPORT AND HEALTH,