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Surrey youth discover sport through the game of pickleball

BC Pickleball Association receives grant to help Surrey youth get active after school

Click photo for Pickleball Nationals Mens OPEN Doubles GOLD MEDAL match video presented by Valenti Sports 2013Many of you might be reading this first sentence wondering the same thing: what in the world is pickleball? Well, pickleball is a new, hybrid sport where one or two pairs of players use a ping-pong style paddle to hit a whiffle ball back and forth over a net in competitive play. Played on a badminton-sized court indoors, or a dedicated outdoor court, the game is a combination of tennis, table tennis and badminton—with a touch of squash and racquetball.

Call it what you may, pickleball is an evolving sport that appeals to all sorts because it is fun and easy to learn for people of all ages and abilities.                                                                 

And it was precisely for these reasons that the Surrey School District chose pickleball as their sport of choice in helping to engage vulnerable youth in their city and with their peers after school.
 

After-school sport program uses pickleball to help Surrey youth get active through sport

School staff in the Surrey School District recently reported an influx of vulnerable students in their inner city schools, unaware of or unable to participate in sport and recreation opportunities outside of school. Whether it was due to lack of funds, transportation or cultural barriers, the School District stepped in to help tackle these challenges, and working together with the BC Pickleball Association, they created After School Pickleball for At Risk Children (A SPARC). This program will start this spring, delivering six new after school instructional sessions and games to over 100 hand-picked students.

Principals, teachers and school counsellors will work together to select the group of participating students aged 7 through 12 from three inner-city schools, and work with their families to register them in the A SPARC program. In a safe, easy-to-access and familiar environment - and at no cost - children will be able to take their first steps into organized sport participation. They will also have the chance to make new friends, build an increased level of confidence and hopefully become motivated to participate in other community and extracurricular sport and recreation programs. 
 

BC Pickleball Association receives grant to help Surrey youth get active after school
 BC Pickleball logo

BC Pickleball is one of 16 organizations that received up to $2,000 from the Local Sport Program  Development (LSPD) fund in the 2014 winter/spring grant intake, administered by viaSport. With funding provided through the Province of BC, the LSPD fund makes community sport more accessible to people of all abilities by providing funding support to sport programs initiated by municipalities, sport organizations and Aboriginal communities.

A program normally run by volunteers, this funding will help BC Pickleball cover the cost of four certified pickleball instructors to run the 12 courses across the two schools. In addition, over twelve other pickleball athletes will attend the sessions to help out, earning instructor certificates in the process
 

Pickleball offers players opportunities for diversity and inclusion

Two years ago, BC Pickleball went in to a North Delta school over a school break to introduce 650 kids their new, hybrid game. One of the children participating had Downs Syndrome and they noticed that he picked up the game fairly quickly. To the amazement of staff and his fellow peers, this student and his partner went on to win in the final tournament. Also to note, the pair that came in second place included a student competing in a wheelchair, really highlighting the accessibility of the game and the diverse opportunity it provides for those with disabilities.

Going into the game, the students weren’t sure how they felt about pickleball and many were hesitant about their ability to play it. However, “the attitudes of the students made a 360 degree turn from day 1 to 14,” said BC Pickleball Founding Director, Chuck Lefaive. “It is truly a game for all.”

The new A SPARC program hopes to carry forward these opportunities for diversity and inclusion, and in addition, instill confidence in the students to help them continue to play sport as they get older. Following the mini tournament, the 

instructors and school staff will work with the students and their families to help identify other sports the students may be interested in, and direct them toward other community sport and recreation programs that fit their needs. In addition, if families are struggling with registration fees, program and school staff will help them to complete applications for KidSport and Jumpstart to help cover these costs. In turn, the A SPARC pickleball program aims to ensure a smooth transition from introductory pickleball into a lifelong participation in sport.

To learn more about pickleball visit the BC Pickleball Association website we www.bcpickleball.com

To learn more about the A SPARC program contact Chuck Lefaive at clefaive@shaw.ca

For more feature stories by viaSport visit our website or follow us or Twitter @ViaSport_ #InspireViaSport

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