By the end of May 2018, 25 people from around the North will have done something pretty amazing in recreation training.
Recreation North, a joint effort between the recreation and parks associations of the three territories, launched its Community Recreation Leadership Program earlier this month. The program is for those who work or volunteer in the recreation field to receive as full a training module as there’s ever been in the North.
When it comes to the NWT, there are participants from eight communities involved for the pilot run of the program.
Geoff Ray, the executive director of the NWT Recreation and Parks Association, is the person in charge of overseeing the program here and said the response from people looking to sign up for the first year was overwhelming.
“We had 44 applicants across all three territories and quite a few of those were from the NWT,” he said. “We had more applicants than space was available and so it was tough to tell people that they couldn’t take part, but the response was surprising. I honestly thought we would have to work to try and get the numbers we did.”
The program, designed to strengthen recreation capacity in the North, was put together by people in the North for people in the North.
Ray said figuring out what to include as part of the module came after consulting many different groups.
“We worked with recreation departments to see what they needed to have their people learn in order to be successful,” he said. “We also spoke with government leaders across Canada along with Indigenous governments to make sure we came up with a well-rounded program.”
For a participant to complete the training, they will have to finish a total of 10 courses. Eight of those ten courses make up the core program and are mandatory.
The other two courses are elective with eight options to choose from. Some of the elective courses are region-specific, but none of the specific courses apply to the NWT.
Each month of the program deals with different courses. For October, Introduction to Recreation Foundations was on the table. November will see participants work on Planning For Success and Identifying Leadership Strengths.
Because this is the first year of the program, Recreation North launched it as a pilot and everyone taking part is doing so free of charge.
Ray said that’s so Recreation North can see how it’s delivered and how it was received.
“We want to learn from the participants to see if the curriculum was applicable,” he said. “We’ll ask the participants what they thought, how it was delivered to them and talk to the communities to see if the participants are applying what they learned.”
All three territories have had their official roll-outs of the program and Ray said the response to date has been positive, especially when it comes to accessibility.
“So far, so good is how I would put it,” he said. “The one thing we kept hearing from people in the communities is that distance learning was needed and so we’re trying to make this engaging, but also accessible. People don’t want to have to travel all the time for professional development.”