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Sport 4 Life Cochrane looking to build connections through Youth Sport Hub

“My suspicion is that there are probably large sections of our community that are not benefiting and we’re hoping to shed some light on those as well."

COCHRANE— Sport 4 Life Cochrane held its annual general meeting on Wednesday (March 24), to discuss the organization’s activity over the past year and its plans for the future.

Lea Wiens, chair of Sport 4 Life Cochrane, said that the major focus of the past year has been education, advocacy and gathering information via its Sport and Physical Activity Survey. These goals are meant to help the organization build connections in the community.

“We used that time to really create the survey so we can gather some information that would help all of the sport and physical activity providers as well as ourselves to really validate what we were doing,” she said.

One of the big projects Sport 4 Life Cochrane is working on right now is the creation of the Youth Sport Hub in Cochrane, which aims to connect organizations, schools and users, to better understand who is engaging in activities and ensure sport opportunities are available for all Cochranites.

Wiens said she hopes the survey will validate the direction Sport 4 Life is moving in this year "by showing the discrepancy between the kids who can participate in community sport, versus those who can’t, and makes sure that we’re levelling the playing field so that kids are getting a great experience through schools and exposure to different sports and learning those skills and confidence-building pieces as well,” she said.

She added Sport 4 Life also hopes to learn more about areas that physical activity providers in the community might need to “collectively focus on” to ensure that every child that wants to play sports in Cochrane has the opportunity to do so.

Although they have not yet seen any preliminary results come in from the survey, Wiens said, she thinks newcomers, kids with disabilities and low-income families might be at risk of missing out on athletic opportunities in Cochrane, and she hopes to see doors open for those individuals.

“My suspicion is that there are probably large sections of our community that are not benefiting and we’re hoping to shed some light on those as well,” she said.

Once the results come in, Sport 4 Life can formulate more specific goals, and make a plan to address some of the gaps in opportunities facing Cochranites.

“One of the things we’re going to do, once we have the preliminary results and identify some trends, we’ll host a few focus groups on specific areas,” she said. “If we identify that there’s a marginalized group, or that there’s a cost issue, or an access issue or things like that, or there are people feeling over scheduled, we might pull together a group of sport organization providers, or a group of social services providers to do a deeper dive into how they see those results and what role we can play as a community to address those.”

Wiens said Sport 4 Life Cochrane has already reached out to many of the physical activity providers in the community, but wanted to extend an open invitation to get involved with the initiative to any user group that may have been overlooked.

The Sport 4 Life Cochrane Sport and Physical Activity Survey went live on Monday (March 22), and will remain online for roughly a month, Wiens said.

To find out more, or provide input, visit sport4lifecochrane.com/.