Recreation North is moving ahead with its Community Recreation Leadership Program full-time.
The program, which was launched as a pilot in October 2017, will become a permanent fixture beginning in the fall. Recreation North made the announcement late last month.
And the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN), which is a member of Recreation North along with the NWT Recreation and Parks Association and the Recreation and Parks Association of Yukon, couldn’t be happier.
The pilot program wrapped up this past May and saw 24 students across all three territories choose from 16 different learning modules in topics such as programming, marketing and funding, among others.
Nunavut had a very small intake – just three in total signed up for the pilot – and Dawn Currie, RPAN’s executive director, said just one of those three people completed it, an individual from Pond Inlet.
That’s still good in her book.
“One completion is a win for us,” she said. “That means someone took the time to do everything and they now have certification.”
The other two were from Arviat and while they didn’t complete the course, Currie said the pair completed plenty of modules along the way.
“I hope they’ll complete it in the fall,” she said.
The pilot was open to anyone who works in recreation as a paid staff member, volunteers in the recreation field or anyone who is thinking about getting into recreation. Once the pilot was completed, feedback was given by the participants on what worked and what didn’t.
Currie said the one common theme she heard was the hope that there would be remote delivery of the programming.
“We were told that people would prefer to learn in person,” she said. “That goes against what we’ve been told about distance learning but you have to remember that the Internet is still a stumbling block in some communities. There isn’t even cell phone service in some communities yet, either. People don’t always have access to the Internet at home and that’s a big concern.”
Currie said she realized right away that it would be an issue and that’s where Scott Schutz comes in.
“Scott is another staff member who will be doing training,” she said. “He’s going to focus on six modules with emphasis on youth. He’ll be working with people from the NWT and Yukon to go through different modules in person and then deliver them in person to smaller groups. We feel that will be more beneficial.”
The other big challenge, according to Currie, was that in most communities, there’s only one paid staff member that looks after recreation, such as a recreation director or co-ordinator.
Those people are busy enough, she said, and simply can’t spare the time.
“That’s why it’s easier to bring them all together in person,” she said. “I think it needs to be stressed on the hamlets and communities that staff training is important and if there’s no budget for it, it doesn’t become a priority. People do better in group settings and if we can get some of the recreation people from the communities together to learn, it’s going to make a huge difference.”
For the full-time program, Currie said Pond Inlet is planning on having a second person enroll but nothing else has been set in stone.
“The schedule hasn’t been set yet,” she said. “There’s some work that has to be done on revisions to the modules and what’s offered. Once we know, we’ll be promoting it around the territory.”