Good sportsmanship

Susan Flanagan
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Taking Strides collects used footwear and equipment for the city’s recreational programs

Taking Strides partners with some of the sneakers collected in 2011 are (from left) Rebecca Matthews, Doreen Shapter, Stephanie Young and Susan Matthews. — Photos by Paul Lahey

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This year, Matthews and her partners have come up with a new name for their efforts. It’s called Taking Strides. The new name reflects the goal of these four ladies and the vision created by the REAL Program: “That all children and youth in the city of St. John’s are able to participate in recreation and leisure activities which help boost their self-esteem, promote healthy, active living and support personal growth through increased knowledge and skill development.”

“We are expecting a huge turnout this year,” says Matthews. “We have reached out to numerous sports associations from NLBA (Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association), school basketball associations, club basketball teams and running clubs. All clubs have sent notification of our sports drive to their distribution lists and the feedback has been very positive. Rebecca has made posters and placed them in various locations throughout the city. As well, we have used social media to get this important message out.”

Matthews, who is a member of Athletics NorthEast (ANE) running club, says that although ANE is a major sponsor of the equipment drive, all the running clubs in the city have been supportive in past years. ANE, Nautilus and NL Running have all donated items.

“This year, we have approached Paradise Running Club as well and they will distribute details of the drive to their membership,” she says. “Collection day is pretty busy, but we always have great volunteers from ANE who show up to help us organize donations.”

So, start going through your closets tonight. You have two more days to do your spring cleaning. Below is a list of items in need by the REAL Program, but please feel free to bring in other used items as well. Please make sure all items are clean and ready to be used by families. And if you think of it, tie pairs of shoes together by their laces:

‰    Running sneakers, jackets and shirts;

‰    Soccer cleats, shorts and other gear;

‰    Basketball shoes;

‰    Baseball cleats/gloves/balls;

‰    Skates/hockey gear.

“Let’s make our fourth year is our best year yet for donations,” says Matthews. “We can do our part to keep kids and adults active and involved in our community.”

If you can’t make it to Crosbie Road on Thursday at supper hour, try to give your donations to someone who can, or email Matthews at

For more information on the REAL Program, go to


Susan Flanagan is a runner who once dragged 21 pairs of sneakers to Cuba along with five other bags of clothing and educational goods to donate. She can be reached at

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association, Paradise Running Club

Geographic location: Crosbie Road, Cuba

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