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Recreation Passes in School Libraries

Active kids climbing on a wall in childrens attraction playground. Entertainment center. Happy childhood

Many children and families are without the financial flexibility to pay for access to participation in recreational activities. In addition to these financial barriers, new Canadian families in particular may experience cultural or language barriers to participation. These barriers can be mediated through a supportive school environment, creating the bridge to community physical activity and recreation settings.

In 2018, a collaborative initiative launched to create access for children and youth from local school communities to the recreation centre in their neighbourhood. Ever Active Schools, Healthy Hearts and Leduc Recreation Centre teamed up to create a strategy to enhance supportive environments for students to participate in physical activity across school and community setting: purchasing recreation membership passes to house within the school library, that any students can check out like a book and use for one week at a time.

This initiative provides opportunities for children and families to participate in recreation without the worry about financial strain. It allows students to try a new activity that they might not have ever been able to access before. Schools are responsible for promoting the initiative to families, managing the sign-out system, and tracking the number of sign-outs.

The program was piloted in 4 schools in the Leduc area from January to December 2018. Since then, we have helped to expand this opportunity into two additional communities and hope to continue to grow the reach of this idea.

Implementing this project requires buy-in from various stakeholders working together to address logistic and financial components. We need recreation centres interested in allowing a rotating family pass, schools interested in promoting and managing the passes, and of course, funding and capacity to oversee the project and assist with any challenges.

The biggest challenge we’ve seen in schools so far is that it’s so popular! With only one pass available, the pass is always rented with long waiting lists, preventing some families from being able to sign it out within the school year.

“Our Corinthia families are absolutely LOVING the passes. We have a great sign-out system set-up (cards in a pouch with a little scribbler to record your fun events) and our list of people who would like it, extends all the way in to next December!”

- Shelly McCubbing, Principal, École Corinthia Park

“We have access to 2 adult passes and then 3 child passes. They have been signed out on a regular basis weekly and there is a huge waiting list! They are booked until the end of the school year! We could definitely use another set of passes to increase the effectiveness of the program and allow for greater benefit for our families.”

- Trevor Henderson, Principal, West Haven Public School

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