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The Reach Up! Northern Community Sports and Leadership Program had another great weekend spending time with youth in Sioux Lookout, Pelican Falls and Lac Seul First Nation communities on May 3-6th.
Reach Up! is a collaborative initiative between Lakehead University Athletics and Wasaya Airways to provide on-site instruction in sport-specific coaching and general leadership strategies for youth in Northern Ontario First Nations communities. Lakehead athletes meet with local youth to discuss peer leadership, life goals, and to share their personal experiences. Lakehead University Athletics and Wasaya Airways believe in the power of sport to change lives and providing the opportunity for youth to connect with Lakehead students about their post-secondary experiences and involvement in sport.
In partnership with The Calgary Foundation, Daryl K. Seaman Canadian Hockey Fund and Wasaya Airlines, multiple athletes from a wide variety of Thunderwolves varsity and club sports participated in a numerous of activities including hockey, basketball and volleyball.
Leif Lennie (Nordic Head Coach), Hayden Gorman (Nordic), Matt Edwards (Basketball), Nikki Ylagan (Basketball), Josh Francis (Club Volleyball), Andrew Galloway (Track Alumni) and Alexi Lajambe (club) all shared memories and laughter with the youth in a weekend filled with sports and activities.
The Thunderwolves spent time at Sioux Mountain Public School in Sioux Lookout as well as Pelican Falls First Nations High School and Obishikokaang Elementary School in Lac Seul First Nation. The ‘Wolves played with students ranging from grade 1 – 12 over the course of the weekend with a total of 250 participants overall.
“I had a great time playing basketball and like my new t-shirt,” said one of the students.
“I know as a teacher in the northern community. The reach up program was an amazing experience for the kids who may never experience something like that again. They had to chance to work and play with some of the best athletes in our community and that’s something these kids will never forget” – Jamie Searle, Teacher at Sioux Mountain Public School & Lakehead University Men’s Basketball Player Development Coach
With the help of the Daryl K. Seaman Canadian Hockey Fund, each Community received equipment including basketballs for various age groups, hoop meshes, ice hockey goalie equipment, outdoor volleyball net and volleyballs. Through the generous support of the Calgary Foundation’s Daryl K. Seaman Canadian Hockey Fund the Lakehead University’s Reach Up! Northern Community Sport and Leadership Program has been able to deliver programming to these road access communities in North Western Ontario.
“The collaboration between Reach Up! and the Lac Seul Community Activator was a good-working relationship. Lac Seul would be delighted to have them back in the community for more sports and recreation activities and training.” Reina Foster, Community Activator.
Amanda Stefanile, Program Coordinator:
“This trip was a huge success in reaching so many youth in the three communities. I would like to express my thanks to Sioux Mountain Public School, Pelican Falls First Nation High School, and Obishikokaang Elementary School in Lac Seul First Nation in collaborating with us to provide a great opportunity for so many youth. I would also like to thank the Calgary Foundation, Daryl K. Seaman Canadian Hockey Fund for making it possible for us to connect our programming to Indigenous communities. Lastly, I would like to thank Wasaya Airline for all of their support with this program.”
Hayden Gorman said, “This Reach Up trip was the first one that I have ever been on. Everywhere we went the smiles and excitement of the youth made the trip really worth it but brought together the positive side of sport.”
“The two days of activities for both staff and students meant a great deal to us and the Lakehead staff were incredible at helping the athletes with sports,” said teachers from Pelican Falls First Nation High School.
Reach Up! looks forward to continuing our partnerships with these communities, and assist in encouraging youth to participate in sport and the possibilities of postsecondary at Lakehead University.