In October 2017, Recreation North launched the pilot of the Community Recreation Leadership Program with its first learning event, RF101 Introduction to Recreation Foundations. Since that time, 25 individuals from communities across the NWT, Yukon, and Nunavut have participated in more than 10 learning events delivered by seven northern trainers. All of the learning events (or mini-courses) were delivered online while some were also offered in-person. Online delivery of learning events allowed participants to train without interrupting the regular flow of their work and family life.
Feedback received from learners about the program has been positive. Assignments are helpful and applicable to learners’ jobs; trainers are supportive and understanding; and the connections made to other recreation leaders has been beneficial in many ways. Learners expressed surprise that so many of the challenges they faced were also faced by recreation leaders in other communities. This led to the learning events being used as a platform for exchanging ideas on how to overcome these challenges.
Participants shared examples of how the Program benefited them in their work. One participant organized a youth trip to another community after being invited by another during one of the conference calls. Another learned through the training to recruit volunteers and solicit prizes from local businesses for local events. For another, the program highlighted some of the key benefits of recreation, such as reducing the isolation and loneliness among Elders, decreasing bullying among youth, and creating more opportunities for cooperation in social groups.
There are still 6 weeks and 3 learning events left before the Community Recreation Leadership Program Pilot comes to an end. And, there is still much learning and networking to come before Certificates in Northern Recreation Leadership are awarded. As the first year of this innovative program wraps up, feedback from participants, their communities, and the will be gathered in order to improve the Program for its launch in the Fall of 2018.